Friday, May 16, 2008

Pity and Mercy and little children

When I read what George Szirtes wrote in his blog today:

I pick up an Independent in the waiting room cafe at Cambridge. China. A child on a stretcher. Caption says she did not survive long after the picture was taken. One looks at the small strained, almost empty face. If there were enough pity in the world... but the world ticks on, the tides move. I am aware of the hollowness in my bones. That line in Browning's poem, 'A Toccata of Galuppi's', the one that begins Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!.. and ends I feel chilly and grown old.

I was reminded of this poem by Yehuda Amichai:

God Full of Mercy

God-Full-of-Mercy, the prayer for the dead.
If God was not full of mercy,
Mercy would have been in the world,
Not just in Him.
I, who plucked flowers in the hills
And looked down into all the valleys,
I, who brought corpses down from the hills,
Can tell you that the world is empty of mercy.
I, who was King of Salt at the seashore,
Who stood without a decision at my window,
Who counted the steps of angels,
Whose heart lifted weights of anguish
In the horrible contests.

I, who use only a small part

Of the words in the dictionary.

I, who must decipher riddles

I don't want to decipher,
Know that if not for the God-full-of-mercy
There would be mercy in the world,
Not just in Him.

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