Edna St. Vincent Millay opens her poem "Sorrow" this way: "Sorrow like a ceaseless rain/Beats upon my heart." It is a fitting sentiment for how the events that occurred last Friday have left us feeling today. Despite the many acts of heroism and kindness displayed by those assaulted, none of it could rekindle the lights that had just been snuffed out so mercilessly.
And so we are left to grieve for those whose lives were taken far too soon, far too soon.
Still, as Malcom told Macduff whose family was murdered by Macbeth in the great play "Macbeth" by Shakespeare, I ask you to "Give sorrow words [because] the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break." What we are feeling now may need an outlet. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion and sorrow, we may need to give expression to those feelings, to find ways to ease the pain. At some point, hopefully led by the president, we as a nation will need to reflect upon and give voice to the many issues that last Friday has raised, including those topics associated with mental illness, gun control, and ending senseless attacks on our citizenry, especially our children.
Now, though, just as the people in Newtown need each other’s and our love and care, we too need to look out for one another, comfort one another. If we are able to channel our many passions into compassion, into love of one another, we can look forward to the many sunny days that will follow the "ceaseless rain" currently soaking us.
Abraham Lincoln wrote these powerful lines to Fanny McCullough, daughter of Lt. Col. William McCullough who was killed in 1862: "In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all. . . . You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. . . ."
I believe that we will come to that knowledge Lincoln speaks about. We must. The future depends on it.
May you all find respite and enjoy the love of family and friends during the holiday season.
The writer is provost, Southern Vermont College.