She wants to reach out, pick up the phone and call,
talk some and remember, laugh, cry and share.
She wants to turn it all back and remember the little things
that were the big things, and wonders if even now
they can still go there as can she. It’s not easy, or fair—
that’s life—but at least it could be together.
Paradoxically, she also wants to forget, to hold onto
what was her mom and not the hag she’s become,
but God, it is so very, very hard! And it’s late. And she’s tired.
And that phone just sits there, not ringing—no, never that—
but still, keeping her up with its infinite, sweet choices,
even though none of them, she suspects, is hope.
I love the title of this poem, even if I have taken it out of context. About the poem I will say no more, having said more of the story than I probably ought. But about the title…
Verweile doch! Du bist so schön! from Göthe’s Faust, is probably the most well-known and often quoted line in German literature. That 19th-century play deals with the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil for worldly gain. This passage, translated as Linger a while—thou art so fair! comes from the scene where Faust is sealing the deal and confirming that if ever he has a moment that is sublime and lingering, then at that instant the pact is complete and he will die and go to hell for eternity.
The full passage is:
Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
Verweile doch! Du bist so schön!
Dann magst du mich in Fesseln schlagen,
dann will ich gern zu grunde gehen!
One translation is:
When I say to the Moment flying;
‘Linger a while—thou art so fair!’
Then bind me in thy bonds undying,
And my final ruin I will bear!
But that key line has many other interpretations, all of which I love:
Beautiful moment, do not pass away!
‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’
Do stay with me, thou art so beautiful!
And many, many more.
Thank you for reading Linger a while—thou art so fair! I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.
Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.