Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

by Henry Scott Holland

Comments (6)

another poem by Ungaretti (in Italian) : _____________________________ Giorno per giorno 4 Mai, non saprete mai come m’illumina L’ombra che mi si pone a lato, timida, Quando non spero più... 7 In cielo cerco il tuo felice volto, Ed i miei occhi in me null’altro vedano Quando anch’essi vorrà chiudere Iddio… 8 E t’amo, t’amo, ed è continuo schianto 9 Inferocita terra, immane mare Mi separa dal luogo della tomba Dove ora si disperde Il martoriato corpo… Non conta… Ascolto sempre più distinta Quella voce d’anima Che non seppi difendere quaggiù... M’isola, sempre più festosa e amica Di minuto in minuto, Nel suo segreto semplice… 13 Non più furori reca a me l’estate, Né primavera i suoi presentimenti; Puoi declinare, autunno, Con le tue stolte glorie: Per uno spoglio desiderio, inverno Distende la stagione più clemente! ... [G. Ungaretti, da “Il dolore”]
here is the original Italian text: ''Variazioni su nulla'' Quel nonnulla di sabbia che trascorre Dalla clessidra muto e va posandosi, E, fugaci, le impronte sul carnato, Sul carnato che muore, d'una nube... Poi mano che rovescia la clessidra, Il ritorno per muoversi, di sabbia, Il farsi argentea tacito di nube Ai primi brevi lividi dell'alba... La mano in ombra la clessidra volse, E, di sabbia, il nonnulla che trascorre Silente, è unica cosa che ormai s'oda E, essendo udita, in buio non scompaia.
Variations on Nothing first appeared in his 1950 collection La terra promessa (The Promised Land) . The subject in this poem is the fleeting time of human life and the endurance of nonhuman earthly objects. An hourglass may depend on a person's hand to turn it over in order to repeat its measurement of time, but when the hand is gone, the object continues to measure the passing of time.
Giuseppe Ungaretti was born February 10,1888, in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents were Italian immigrants who moved to Egypt when his father accepted a job as a laborer on the construction of the Suez Canal. When Ungaretti was two years old, his father died, and his mother supported the family with earnings from a job at a bakery in an Italian section of Alexandria. Ungaretti attended schools in Egypt until 1912, when he left for Paris to study at the Sorbonne. During his university years, Ungaretti became acquainted with various artists and poets, including Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, and his own poems were first published in 1915 in a French journal. At the beginning of World War I, Ungaretti was sent to fight in Carso in northern Italy, the scene of some of the war's bloodiest battles. His horrific experiences there became the subject of much of his early poetry.
Lovely poem. And yes, nostalgic and sad. The images are so delicate, as Ungaretti's imagery often was. That said, shame they don't credit the translator: me. OK, I'll credit him: translation by Andrew Frisardi, published in 'Giuseppe Ungaretti: Selected Poems, ' Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2002) , copyright ignored courtesy of Poem Hunter.
See More