Daniel Bosch

Of Weeping
December 15, 2011 Bosch Daniel

Of Weeping


First there is the weeping one weeps when one reads a good poem,

And then—another weeping one weeps alone—there is the weeping

One weeps watching a movie in which some character’s faith is rewarded,

A weeping not unlike the weeping one weeps when the car stereo

Plays a certain song, and one may hold the wheel more tightly.


There is also that weeping one weeps at the funeral of the father,

Which one understands may look the same as—but is quite distinct from—

The weeping one weeps at the graveside of the mother, assuming,

Of course, one has remained close enough to one’s mother that one’s

Weeping is not only still warranted, but entirely plausible and true.


Certain Bach motets may induce weeping; so may Van der Weyden’s

“Deposition,” and a sensitive one may even weep at the suppression

Of commas and other medial punctuation in sentences by DeLillo.

Many have wept into tissues passed to them by their therapist

Following that doctor’s involuntary emission of an “Oh, my God.”


One should never forget other people’s suffering, deserved or undeserved;

How it, too—provided it is much greater than the suffering oneself

Could, conceivably, have borne—may prompt a good weeping, and how,

Oftentimes, having risen in the middle of the night, one may feel

A weeping well up in the eyes as one paces, slowly, beside one’s bed.


Once such a weeping has welled, that weeping may tend to swell, and,

As if it were derived from a divisible source, and not from a single,

Greater sadness, to rush, or to be felt by one as if it were rushing, over one,

At first in a series of not very large sets that increase in frequency, and then,

After a brief, uncontrollable surge of weeping, to pass in diminishing waves.


These waves, even as they pass, may be so great, in number and in strength,

That one may feel, as one weeps—as Auden put it, describing unfeeling

Piers driven upright into coastal shelves—”pummeled by the waves,”

And one’s wet weeping face, if any other one were there to look upon it

In the not-enough light, may appear to be covered with a mucoid glaze.


So it may be that one’s pillowcase, on both sides of one’s head, where one’s

Pillow may touch, just slightly, one’s ears, may be, by then, wet, wet, wet,

Soaked because one pondered ancient Philoctete’s wound—which also wept—

Or swamped on account of one’s consideration of blind, pus-weeping Gloucester

Holding not-Edgar’s hand, at the not-brink of a not-cliff at not-Dover.


What, one may ask, of that sweetly convulsive weeping one weeps too long

After a fit of shared laughter has failed to die, and, fitfully, persists,

Contracting one’s diaphragm and jerking forth from one yet a further gasp,

Yet another flow one may wipe from one’s cheeks with the backs of both

Baby fists? Having wept such a weeping one knows to say only a little.



There remains a more public and therefore more honest weeping, the weeping

One weeps as everyone comes and goes, while one prepares everyone’s dinner,

One’s good blade busy in one’s right hand, one’s left hand pushing forward one

Half of a medium onion, the other half of which weeps, already, forbearing

Donne’s valediction to “forbear to teach the sea what it may do too soon.”


Daniel Bosch teaches writing and literature at Emory University in Atlanta. This spring he will offer a course in the history of the line of verse in English, 700-1700-1700.