in requiem

I can not list all their names, I can only look up into the pale morning sky and know there are extra stars out there somewhere - bright stars, broken lights, all the famous people who have passed on this year, and the quiet everyday people about whom no one knew to write a headline. I was talking about it with a younger person today, about how this year brought so much grief to our culture, and I said maybe it's because the people of my generation and the one before were so bloody awesome, they did so many awesome things, they had courage and beauty and wild voices that they were willing to share with us all.

Or maybe it's because the 70s and 80s were years of magic ... goblin kings and purple rain and rabbit prophets and fabulous star princesses and sad minstrels who had turned their hearts to thorns ... and we grieve now to see its loss so starkly. We are not only mourning people, but a way of being in the world. A poetic, cock-eyed, deep-down, gloriously honest way. We look ahead to walls and fear, betrayal from our leaders, and an agony of disconnection that is widespread amongst our youth. It feels like a winter, and the leafy, sumptuous magic shrivelled away.

But winter is the richest time of all. The magic is not gone, it is only in the dirt and the dark, reseeding itself to grow again with new tenderness and even greater strength than before. If we water it.

So when you have wept your tears, and made your plans incase war comes, and watched all the old movies again, please write those poems you aren't sure are good enough. Dance down the supermarket aisles. Put on a black turtleneck jumper and sigh loudly in public. Be crazy and glorious and honest and so very, very brave. (I know, sometimes just walking to the stores can feel brave. That's enough!) Let's all be minstrels and prophets and determined princesses. Let's keep believing in magic. The younger generations coming forth will see cruelty and deception all around them, a poisoned world, a promise of wars. Let's not be silent for them, like some empty garden waiting to be plundered for oil. Let's sing them all the mad, heart-rending poem-songs, teach them about roots of lavish enchantment, and show them the stars.

art by amy sol


  1. Thank you SO much for this, dear Sarah. 2016 has been a helluva year...

  2. We think we've seen it all, but there is always more to be seen. I have hope for the good, though it will come with some bad.
    I lost my brother to the Vietnam war, some 45 years ago. We need to make our tomorrows better. Wars must end. I have hope.
    A wonderful, thoughtful post, Sarah.

  3. "we are not only mourning people, but a way of being in the world."

    yes, yes!

    a time of greater hope, expansive visions, a time of reaching for stars whilst touching the earth...

    and you are right...those of us who were alive then need to model the authenticity---and the belief in magic--- that was the hallmark of the best of that time to our children. i was only a tiny child myself then, but i clearly recall feelings about the zeitgeist, and i definitely registered a change in it as i grew older. lately i have found myself quite nostalgic for that time of my early childhood...wondering if i was seeing the past correctly, or if i had donned ye olde rose colored spectacles. but apparently others feel it too.

    1. I was born at the very end of the 60s, but I grew up in a country which for a long while lagged behind the rest of the world, and a district of that country which lagged even further behind ... I still remember when they changed our road signs from miles to kms, and my grandmother's butcher changed from the pound system to metric ... so I have a great deal of confused nostalgia :-)

      Looking back I realise how blessed I was to be a child in those days. The slow pace, the simplicity ... To roam the neighbourhood freely (only two murders a year) ... to visit the new McDonalds restaurant when I was about 10 years old ... to listen to wild dreaming rock music, and charming optomistic pop music ... I could go on and on. I don't regret so many of the things we have in this new century, but I wish we had brought ahead with us the peace and magic of those two decades in particular.

      (Of course, my experience of them was quite restricted, as I mentioned above, and I know they were dark times for many others, especially in America.)

  4. Oh dear friend, yes and Yes and YES! You have voiced my tangled web of memory and loss and the communal culture of our generation so well! {{hugs}}

  5. Older friends tell me it feels like 1968 in America right now, and they remember it as a horrible time. I was a kid so I only remember all the groovy hippiness, bright colors and counterculture. :) There also seem to be a lot of parallels now to the huge movements going on a hundred years ago, struggles for workers' rights, women's suffrage, backlash against immigrants and so on. I guess humans have always needed a way to hold on to myth and magic, in some little part of their hearts. I find it in trees and the wind and yes, definitely the stars. <3

    1. I wasn't quite yet in the world in 1968 :-) But I do know America then was an extremely different place from NZ, although they are sadly more similar now. We also had a more moderate time with the issues of a 100 years ago (eg, we were the first to give women votes) but those issues certainly did exist here.

      Having said that, I've been opining for weeks now that this year and the political changes within it have reminded me more of the lead-up to WWI than WWII. I know, we have facists now - but the sense of change, and global insecurity, feels more like 1913.

    2. I should clarify too that when I spoke here of magic I spoke of an attitude towards life and other people, the magic of people's hearts, rather than natural magic. But I guess my experience of that in the 70s and 80s may have been NZ-centric.

  6. yes to everything you said, sure they world is a bit a let down right now who knows what amazing things could happen? we might even enjoy ourselves.

    have a lovely day.

    1. Well I hope amazingly good things do happen :-)


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