After the first death

September 10, 1997|By F. de Sales Meyers

DESPITE THE genuine regret I felt at the death in horrible circumstances of Princess Diana, I find it absolutely incomprehensible that there was selected for use as a kind of dirge for her work so pathetically inappropriate and insipid as that song entitled ''Candle in the Wind.''

I found it incredible that someone whose mother tongue was English, the wondrous instrument for centuries of noble sentiment in poetry and prose, was laid to rest by the likes of such lyrics as, ''Loveliness we've lost/ These empty days without your smile/ This torch we'll always carry/ For our nation's golden child.''

That, no less, one would expect to read on a very cheap sympathy card. Were these the words to echo around Westminster Abbey, the eternal tomb of England's greatest poets and authors?

Was no one literate?

And, notwithstanding the famed attributes of the singer and composer of those lyrics, and putting aside the notability of friendship for the deceased, surely there should have been someone literate enough to realize that words other than those quoted above were available from centuries of gloriously inspired English poetry.

Would Shakespeare himself not have been adequate? On every mind of intellect and taste there should have been awareness, at least, of his ''Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.'' If lyrics originally intended as funereal tribute to Marilyn Monroe could have been altered to suit a princess, certainly those meant for a prince of Denmark might have been adaptable.

Then, compare, if you will, Shakespeare's Sonnet 23, beginning ''Shall I compare thee to a summer's day,'' and ending:

Nor shall Death brag thou

wander'st in his shade:

When in eternal lines to time

thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe, or

eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives

life to thee.

Or had there been, among the service planners, some desire for modernity suitable to the former life style of the dead princess, why not the poetry of Dylan Thomas, whose life, one suspects, she might have found endearingly colorful, if not itself also as tragic. Thus:

Deep with the first dead lies

London's daughter,

Robed in the long friends,

the grains beyond age, the dark

veins of her mother,

Secret by the unmourning

water

Of the riding Thames.

After the first death, there is no

other.

We have instead show-biz pop-music lyrics such as:

And even though we try

The truth brings us to tears,

All our words cannot express

The joy you brought us through

the years.

Think of that, if you will, in the land of Keats and Shelley and William Blake, taking Diana on and on into eternity.

F. De Sales Meyers writes from Reisterstown.

Pub Date: 9/10/97

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