Saturday, June 3, 2017

"On the Death of a Child" Discussion

Day 6 of this year's Mormon Lit Blitz is Merrijane Rice's poem "On the Death of a Child."

Craft question:
People tend to read poetry more carefully than other forms. Even live, people listen for the nuances of a poem in a way they don't tend to strain for detail in a fiction or essay reading. One way to use poetry, then, is to compress meaning: to evoke a lot of different memories and associations with a single phrase or line.
How does Merrijane do that?

Content questions:
What do you with pain that comes and sits on your chest and stays?
How do you help and stand by someone who is dealing with a major source of pain?


  1. Among many other things, this poem made me thinks of Merrijane's poem "Sister": Both of them deal with the problem of standing by someone else in their pain. And for a Mormon audience, that's such a relevant concern. We are religiously committed to living close to each other and reaching out and we need stories about how to do it.
    I think is a strong argument for fostering Mormon literature. Other people just aren't addressing the concerns of Mormon life the same way a Mormon can.

  2. Maybe this one resonated so deeply with me because my sister lost her son in October. It is a "pain planted in your chest," like Merrijane says. I mourn every day for my lost nephew, for my sister who had to watch him die, for his brother who never wanted his own bedroom.
    I feel that only poetry can capture this depth of sorrow.

  3. I have never felt such a loss, so I appreciate stories and poems that give a hint at how to comfort and how to feel that suffering.

    The scriptural reference to Absalom and David reminded me of OS Card's use of the story in Ender's Shadow, in a moment that showed the main character starting to understand mourning and suffering for others. It feels like there's a lot of resonance in the story of Absalom, and now I'm wondering where else I might find it.



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