Of Setting Stars and Old Grandfathers


Loss is a strange thing. We want the thing possessed by a departed friend to remain true about the world. Yet despite our memory and the many sweet gifts they gave us, we somehow imagine the world will no longer carry the beauty they embodied. We want the gifts they gave us to remain in our possession and we doubt that they can.

Loss is an anxiety and a righteous exaltation. Especially if those gifts were not grandiose but instead confined more closely within your person. “Who will I be without your unique kind of beauty also within me?” you ask.

“To live in the time when you also lived. To live in the realm cadenced by your spirit. These were among the things that made me who I am,” you say. “And now, I too am departing.” The terms that undergird the nobility of the world somehow are no longer, as though they never were at all.

It is not a refusal of their gifts, although it seems at first that we call into question the longevity of them. We want rulership of this plane by the same gods, yet even they feel now alien to us without our dear friend and interlocutor. “What kinds of homage do we do and to whom?”

When this friend has also given us a newer recognition of the beauty and the genius of our own persons, we then sense ourselves floating in a cold sky, divested of those things we hoped were cardinal in ourselves:

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,

We place our feet where they have never been.

We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.

Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight-

We were students then- holds up our feet,

And goes on ahead of us for a mile.

Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness

Robert Bly was such a friend. His work brought men back to their original being. A kind of homecoming that reminded us both the majesty of the plane around us and our belonging in it. And yet never let us forget the pangs of our departure — both being born into the finitude of our beings and that this finitude also increases. These things conspired, and perhaps a sense of grief most poignantly, to give us a sense of our own imperative.

He brought us a communion with an ancient soul, a Zoroastrian mythos within the plain farmland beauty of America. He was a translator of the great Persians and good at backslapping also. He gave us the sense that key to the soul was only through approximations and proximities, never through directness, because the melancholy of being was too present in the changing world. He helped us unify the pathos and the ecstatic.

Some love to watch the sea bushes appearing at dawn,

To see night fall from the goose wings, and to hear

The conversations the night sea has with the dawn.

If we can’t find Heaven, there are always bluejays.

Now you know why I spent my twenties crying.

Cries are required from those who wake disturbed at dawn.

Adam was called in to name the Red-Winged

Blackbirds, the Diamond Rattlers, and the Ring-Tailed

Raccoons washing God in the streams at dawn.

Centuries later, the Mesopotamian gods,

All curls and ears, showed up; behind them the Generals

With their blue-coated sons who will die at dawn.

Those grasshopper-eating hermits were so good

To stay all day in the cave; but it is also sweet

To see the fenceposts gradually appear at dawn.

People in love with the setting stars are right

To adore the baby who smells of the stable, but we know

That even the setting stars will disappear at dawn.

Loss is a dull thing. Somehow we know that in the beauty of a friend, we see its imminent withdrawal also. And so we dull our sense of their ripe goodness and wonder in trepidation of the alien sentiments we know we will surely soon inherit. “There may not be many more,” we think to ourselves, “such is the way of things.” And so we sometimes loose our friends long before their departure thinking we can amortize the grief.

Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six

feet from the house …

Thoughts that go so far.

The boy gets out of high school and reads no more


the son stops calling home.

The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no

more bread.

And the wife looks at her husband one night at a

party, and loves him no more.

The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls

leaving the church.

It will not come closer

the one inside moves back, and the hands touch

nothing, and are safe.

The father grieves for his son, and will not leave the

room where the coffin stands.

He turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.

And the sea lifts and falls all night, the moon goes on

through the unattached heavens alone.

The toe of the shoe pivots

in the dust …

And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back

down the hill.

No one knows why he came, or why he turned away,

and did not climb the hill.

But as the love for our departed friend swells in the heart, his gifts seem to also, as though we are not the departed after all. We will always call to the Wild Man at the wood’s edge, dig in the black dirt with hind claws. And yet we know that our very grief is assurance that they and their beauty and gifts remain within us. And so these gifts overflow despite our sadness.

God was full of Wine last night, so full of wine that He let a great secret slip.

He said: There is no man on earth who needs a pardon from Me -

For there is really no such thing, no such thing as sin!

That Beloved has gone completely wild . He has poured Himself into me!

I am blissful and drunk and overflowing.

Dear world, draw life from my sweet body,

Dear wayfaring souls, come drink your fill of liquid rubies,

For God has made my heart

An Eternal Fountain!


Thank You Robert




Agrigentum Capital. Market Activist. Entrepreneur. Austrian Economics. @rosswcalvin

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Ross W. Calvin

Ross W. Calvin

Agrigentum Capital. Market Activist. Entrepreneur. Austrian Economics. @rosswcalvin

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