Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fledged birds' nests

As the leaves come off the trees, you can see where the birds lived during the spring and summer.

In the Barbara Pym novel Less Than Angels, after the death of a loved one a character reads or remembers these lines of poetry:

He that hath found some fledged bird’s nest, may know
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
That is to him unknown.

It is from the poem "Beyond the Veil," by Henry Vaughan. In the Harry Potter books, there is a room in the Department of Mysteries where a veil hangs over a doorway in the middle of a room, and when a character goes through it--goes "beyond the veil"--that is his death. Harry Potter, who has a lot of loved ones who have died, and Luna Lovegood, whose mother is dead, can hear voices beyond the veil, and Harry is very drawn to it. Death--the fear of death, the death of friends and family, facing one's own death, even longing for it as a means of reunion with those who are gone--is a central theme of the Harry Potter novels. Jo Rowling reveals her Christian faith in how she finally handles this topic. I believe she lost her mother at a rather young age, and I think part of her motive in writing the books was to work through that experience.

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