The current issue of The New Yorker (available online only for subscribers) has a number of the poignant final poems of John Updike, some written as he was preparing for his death and bidding farewell to his loved ones.
They are also replete with grateful memories of the relations he formed as a youngster and of the town he immortalized as “Shillington.”
He writes: “To think of you brings tears less caustic/ than those the thought of death brings.” And again: “I’ve written these before, these modest facts/ but their meaning has no bottom in my mind.”
In a final poem, “Fine Point” (dated December 22, 2008), he says (sings?): “The timbrel creed of praise/ gives spirit to the daily; blood tinges lips.”
Reading them, with emotion, I remembered one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ final poems. “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection,” and felt it a prayer that:
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.