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February 29, 2004 by AK

Pain

For strictly personal reasons, this is one of the times when I come back to Emily Dickinson’s treatise on anguish, which begins,

I MEASURE every grief I meet

With analytic eyes;

I wonder if it weighs like mine,

Or has an easier size.

  

I wonder if they bore it long,

Or did it just begin?

I could not tell the date of mine,

It feels so old a pain.

Mine certainly has an easier size, and is not that old. I do not quite understand this poem, but I must keep trying. The Orthodox author of The Meaning of His Suffering notes in brackets:

[I]n the Christian east the West’s big question, “how can a good God permit evil?” doesn’t occur; we know evil is in the world because our sins keep polluting it, keep opening the door. Our sins empower the Evil One, and he delights in hurting the innocent, not only because he enjoys their suffering, but relishes the grief of observers as well.

Well, Russians actually keep asking this, like everybody else; whatever the answer, it, taken alone, does not assuage the pain.

Ivan Karamazov, who proposed to return his ticket to the Creator, collected newspaper clippings with accounts of childrens’ suffering (real suffering, not candy deprivation), proceeding to indict Him on the basis of that collection. “To your insane world // There is but one response: refusal.” (Tsvetaeva)


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