Monday, August 11, 2014

God Abandons Antony . . . and Robin Williams

Thinking on the death of Robin Williams this evening, grateful for the laughter, saddened by the knowledge that depression won the final round, and this poem keeps flitting to the surface of my thoughts.

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

~"God Abandons Antony", C.P. Cavafy, translation by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

From my childhood memories of Happy Days, and then Mork and Mindy, I owned the suspenders and the lunch box and a notebook with his goofy grin on it. I was a teenager who ate up Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poet's Society as gospel. I raised my children with him as the Genie's voice in Aladdin, as Mrs. Doubtfire, and Jumanji. He was Osric in the Hamlet I showed hundreds of times to so many students.

He was just . . . always there.

And, as always, whenever a death is too soon, too unexpected, without a lingering illness or very old age, the shock of his passing stings just enough to stir the sadness for a while.

I'd prefer to remember the laughter tonight, and always.

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest


Post a Comment