Tuesday, September 24, 2019

alone and not alone, we lived and died

Harlan and Anna Hubbard

Harlan:  And so we named a day - remember? -  and a certain train that you would be on if you wanted to marry me,
Anna:  and that you would be on if you wanted to marry me,
Both:  and both of us were on that train!
Anna:  And then,  Harlan,  we did drift away
Harlan:  on a little boat we built ourselves, that contained hardly more than our music, our stove, our table, and our bed
Anna:  in which we slept - and did not sleep -
Harlan:  my birthplace into our new life!
Anna: For a long time we had no home but that little boat and one another
Harlan:  and the music that we sent forth over the water and into the woods.
Anna:  And then we came here to this hollow and built a house and made a garden
Harlan:  and gave our life a standing place and worked and played and lived and died
Anna:  and were alone and were not alone.
Harlan:  Alone and not alone, we lived and died, and after your death I lived on alone, yet not alone, for in my thoughts I never ceased to speak with you.  I knew then that half my music was hidden away in another world.  The music I had heard, so distant,  had been the music you and I had played - the music of something almost whole that you and I had made;  it made one thing of food and hunger, work and rest, day and night.  It made one thing of loneliness and love.  That music seemed another world to me,  and far away,  because I could play only half, not all.
Anna:  And half the life that you so longed to live - was mine?
Harlan:  Was yours.  Without you, I could not live the life we lived,  which I then missed and longed for,  even in my perfect solitude.
Anna:  You will forgive, I hope, my pleasure in the thought of you alone, playing half a duet - for also it saddens me.
Harlan:  You would have laughed,  Anna, to hear how badly I played alone,  without your strong art to carry me.  My perfect music then was made by crickets and katydids and frogs.  I heard too the creek always coming down,  allegro furioso after storms,  and of course the birds - the wood thrush, whose song in summer twilight renews the world, and in all seasons the wren.  But those unceasing voices in the dark were the ones that sang for me, and I was thankful for the loneliness that had brought us two together out of all the time we were apart.

~ Wendell Berry
from 'Sonata at Payne Hollow'