When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste;
Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow)
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan th’expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before;
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All loses are restored, and sorrows end.
I’ve been thinking about this sonnet for the last week or so for a number of reasons. I love the phrase “sweet silent thought.” And while the speaker is brooding for much of the poem, to me this phrase implies time to contemplate new ideas. Having quiet, unhurried time to think is a rarity these days. Just as by the end of the poem, the speaker has achieved peace thinking of his friend, taking this time to think can bring us peace. (Both literal and figurative!)
This poem has also been on my mind because of a story I’ve been working on. The main character is grieving over the loss of her mother, and by the end of the story I want her to come to the kind of reconciliation with her grief that this speaker has. Whether or not I can accomplish that for her is another story, but I’m going to try.
In the meantime, I think I’ll listen to Kenneth Branagh read this lovely poem once more:
Be sure to visit Keri at Keri Recommends for her inaugural Poetry Friday Round Up.