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I Desire

Poem By Allama Muhammad Iqbal

The grave’s a place where none embrace,
and yet the marvel is that when a wife
survives the man she loves his place
still parenthetically may fill her life,
because his place is in her heart
so long as she remembers all the joy
they once had shared. She will not part,
but parenthetically just redeploy.


Inspired by recalling the death of Mrs. Ramsay in Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway”:

Just as Mr Bankes is shocked by Lily’s representation of Mrs Ramsay, so Woolf’s readers may be shocked by the novel’s representation of Mrs Ramsay’s death: “[Mr. Ramsay stumbling along a passage stretched his arms out one dark morning, but Mrs. Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before he stretched his arms out. They remained empty.]” (200) This is the low point of “Time Passes”. There are other deaths recorded here, each in parenthesis – the fall of a son in the Great War, the loss of a daughter in the pain of giving birth. But it is the death of the novel’s central character, Mrs Ramsay, so casually reported, that most shocks. The notorious stumbling sentence in which the patriarch, Mr Ramsay, reaches out for his faithful wife only to clasp thin air, has given readers (and editors) considerable trouble (especially as the first American edition gives a substantive variant) . The passage may well allude to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, a husband losing his wife at the gates of Hell. Mr Ramsay also seems to have learned the lesson of Andrew Marvell’s carpe diem in “To His Coy Mistress”: “The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none, I think, do there embrace”.

11/26/07

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