Wednesday, June 29, 2022

'Our Souls Were Near Ally’d'

Live long enough, nurture the human gift of friendship often enough, and you will know sadness and loss – yet another human paradox. Out of nowhere I felt the pang of missing Terry Teachout, who died in January. Like other powerful emotions, sadness metastasizes. From Terry I thought of David Myers, who died in 2014. They were critics who knew and respected each other. Each I met only once in person. Our friendships were largely digital, sometimes daily but no less real and important. Both confirm Dr. Johnson’s observation that “friends partake each other's pleasures as well as cares” and are “led to the same diversions by similitude of taste.” I thought of Dryden’s lines in “To the Memory of Mr. Oldham”: 

“Farewell, too little and too lately known,

Whom I began to think and call my own;

For sure our souls were near ally’d; and thine

Cast in the same poetic mould with mine.

One common note on either lyre did strike,

And knaves and fools we both abhorr’d alike:

To the same goal did both our studies drive,

The last set out the soonest did arrive.”


In his 1924 essay on Dryden, T.S. Eliot quotes the elegy in full and writes: “From the perfection of such an elegy we cannot detract; the lack of nebula is compensated by the satisfying completeness of the statement.”

No comments: