Solitude, or: Loneliness

An abhanga


Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.

Paul Tillich (1886 โ€“ 1965)
Solitude, glorious?
That's weak consolation
in dark isolation,
dying, diseased.

Solitude, glorious
when expected to end.
Come, let us not pretend
we don't suffer.

38 thoughts on “Solitude, or: Loneliness”

  1. If in pretending we have even minute peace, however transient, let us then pretend.

    Suffering, suffering so long the ills of mind and body – this aginising norm needs a little pretending, sometimes

    From my Epilepsy, Bipolar Disorder,OsteoArthritis and adinfinitum. these have been my norm practically my whole life.

    If I were to be healed I wouldn’t know what to do with myself – ha ha.

    1. It’s so interesting to me how different people took this poem in different directions – that’s art!

      My original thought was simply that people who are suffering less from COVID isolation are pretending that those who suffering from isolation aren’t really suffering…

      1. Neither the case for us – the suffering is just more like inconvenience, being in our age bracket it seems the elderly who live alone are suffering, government restrictions preventing family and friends from visiting unless they are within 5km of eachother. Even then,just 1 person per time.

  2. I enjoy a certain amount of solitude. On the other hand, Covid 19 restrictions give me cabin fever, and I still am waiting for the day I can see my children again. Your poem is so fitting for the times, David! โค

  3. beautifully expressed David and so true๐Ÿ’–.

    Our friend died yesterday. 2 months ago he had to go to rehab and no one could visit. His poem was called Alone and Lonely. soooo sad. He call his wife our friend 12 x’a a night. She finally brought him home on hospice to die and he was surrounded by love (her). I missed seeing him off by an hour sadly to help him cross and let go. Everyday of their married life for 40 years he wrote her a poem. I have never seen a love so pure and loving. So tender and surreal. I will post his poem in time. ๐Ÿ’–

    1. e,g. I certainly don’t want to excuse poor elderly care in communities; but I think there is a lot to be said for spiritual education that allows people to accept where they are in life – including the vast unknown to be entered…

  4. mmh – was just attending my 12-step meditation meeting, and in the 30′ silence something popped up, not quite what I thought I’d construct, but for now – here goes:

    silence is a vast desert, I can only take today’s first step to cross,
    silence is the world round I love, and space –
    loneliness is me digging my head into the sand at the edge of desert.

      1. David, it seems to me you are making a case here for clarifying the notions. Aloneness has been forced upon us by the pandemic/legislative measures designed to manage it; no one said it would be ‘endless’; (who is catastrophising here?).

          1. my point is that as a poet I am expressing a particular human experience / emotion under particular circumstances… a thoroughly precise description of all human experiences is not my goal. I was relating a feeling, not facts.

          2. wouldn’t you say that as a poet you express truths such as human experiences from an original angle? how does a kind-of spiritual/philosophical stance fit in?

          3. I do tend towards expressing truth(s), but I’m not sure that all poetry does by default… poetry isn’t limited to any particular way of approaching things, is it? spiritual &/or philosophical understandings are an approach that I tend towards but do not always employ.

  5. mmh – that one is inviting to cooperation turning into 4 verses in the process perhaps. I have met dying people who chose to be on their own and while I know and appreciate the difference of my solitude being limited, e.g. when a friend was in town, there is also a quality of in not ending, needed to process… watch this space ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s