On Weeping

(A poem by Robert Cording, "Common Life")


The name his followers gave Ignatius, who wept
While saying mass, or while listening to the coos
Of a common dove. Ignatius never knew
When his throat would tighten, a wave of sobs
Breaking him open as he stood watching clouds
Move in the wide gaze of the sky, or passed a boy
Climbing a pine, lost in the play of his body.
Yet it wasn't the reverie of blue sky and clouds,
Nor even the boy's self-forgetfull happiness
That brought on those tears beyond his control.
These days, when passion is cooled by irony,
When we try to live as if each day were
Predictable and self determined, when God
And the soul are off-limits, how can we understand
Such abandonment in a man who wept
Almost daily--not because of the time he'd wasted
Or would waste, not because of his weak stomach
Or his leg's old war injury, or because he'd given up
The feel of trembling flesh along the inner curve
Of a woman's thigh or the full, idle hours
Spent in his father's castle. Not even because of
The wearied and hopeless poor whom he met
On every road and went among in cities.
He wept, they say, because he'd suddenly feel
Entirely empty, and utterly grateful, all the doors
Of his heart, which was and was not his
At these moments, and which we know
Only as metaphor, swung wide open, able now
To receive and find room for all the world's
Orphaned outpourings and astonishments.

(Why weeping is a rarity for us modern men is not so much a mystery as an awful, confounding thing. We have been so thoroughgoingly fooled into believing in the suppression of one of the best acts of our physical bodies, as natural and refreshing as sweating. It's simply astounding. And sadly, I fall into this category of men, uncomfortable, afraid of being out of control. Where have the days gone when great men wept openly, men like Odysseus who wept for family and home, men like Ignatius who wept for the world's astonishments. Where are the days when we wept for beauty. Where are the days when we men wept and had no shame.)


Anonymous said…
That's a beautiful poem and it's expressing profound truth, as you said; thanks so much for posting it. Take care.
s. e. wedelich said…
not to draw attention away from the beautiful truth expressed, but i feel that women are also finding themselves in this same struggle, whether because of that feminist-rooted feeling of needing to be strong and independent and not look "emotional" or from a general numbness from within and without that gnaws away at the soul and buries true feelings.

it is just so hard to be still and silent and let it all flood up and out.
kelly said…
Whatever resistance we may have to tears (men or women), life sometimes breaks past them in a big way. I've found that once that happens, the ability to resist tears never fully returns. It's one of those good side effects that can come from intense pain. Still, pain sucks and I'd gladly forgo it's benefits to be without it.

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