Let me tell you something
I know about hopeless grief.
It is green, acrid, violent,
and unrelenting in its ache.

Nothing passionless about that.
In my view, it's when the grief
subsides and the dark moves in
that you should start to worry.

When the numb hits the limbs,
that's when the time is right
to stage an intervention. Bring
barrels of wine and love, please.

This poem is a response to the famous poem "Grief" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Kenia asked the Real Toads to write a poem containing a line from a poem of which we are not fond. It's not that I dislike this poem of Browning's, but I have never experienced grief as passionless, so I tried to describe that. And now the idea is brewing in my brain, so I'm posting in response to Kenia's prompt but this feels like a very preliminary draft. Stay tuned!


  1. Yes, I fully agree. Your second stanza hits the nail on the head, and the conclusion holds all the promise of a compassionate solution.

  2. Really interesting to read the poem, then your response, Marian. I'm not sure I completely 'get' Barret Browning's piece--maybe that to have passion you have to have hope, and deep grief negates that--but I do definitely get yours, and agree. Grief has sharp teeth.

  3. "It is green, acrid, violent,
    and unrelenting in its ache." ... Nice.

    "when the grief
    subsides and the dark moves" ... That is a dark and scary place.

    "When the numb hits the limbs" ... I agree; wine is the answer. ;)

  4. I think these lines are key in unravelling Browning's poem:

    "hopeless grief is passionless"

    "Deep-hearted man, express
    Grief for thy dead in silence like to death"

    "the marble eyelids are not wet:
    If it could weep, it could arise and go"

    The deepest despair sucks the life out of you; all that is left is stone that cannot cry because there is no hope. This kind of grief is like that of losing a child. It is likely that the parent will hardly even exist after such a loss; he/she may still barely be alive, but there is certainly no passion left. In some cases, this is the only way to press on---to remove your own heart and refuse to ever cry again.

  5. I love that you went with this one!
    I love the colors and thought of bitter acid at the beginning, but
    these words said, so much!
    "when the grief
    subsides and the dark moves"...
    yes, this is the scariest point

    I love what you did with this one!

    Congrats on your book!
    I read Kerry's amazing review :D

  6. Both the original poem and your response give me a lot to ponder, especially since I volunteer in the area of bereavement. I see both ends of the grief spectrum. Typically, it is healthier to be able to express your grief rather than bear it silently and passionlessly.

  7. You have totally nailed grief. Love the barrels of wine and love......send them over, any time. I'm Irish, I can always summon a little grief, hee hee!

  8. I liked her line... The marble eyelids are not wet. You did a ice job keeping her tone and I loved your line ...when the numb hits the limbs. Great job here.

  9. green, acrid, violent.
    that is some powerful imagery.

    i read a poem once (and am driving myself mad trying to think which one it was) where the grieving woman described herself as a statue. the numbness, the frozen quality.
    it worked better than browings, for that particular sentiment. there was something in it too about birds roosting in her hands... crap'n'eggs it's gonna pester me for a week...

    anyhow. this is wonderful.
    whatever shade it takes, grief is a menacing beast.
    can't wait to see what else this prompts!

  10. I think you captured the feelings of overwhelming grief, when it becomes so intense that you simply go numb. This... "unrelenting in its ache." I've been there.

  11. wow, i went away for a day and came back to extremely interesting comments. thanks, all. Browning's poem is so interesting, what you've all said is interesting, wheels are turning.

  12. I came back for another look-see. Am thinking maybe Barrett, having suffered so much, learned how to numb herself to pain. Maybe that is why hers felt passionless - through submerging what she found too intense to feel. I know something about that. I so adore this poem of yours.......have been turning this topic around in my mind for a few days ever since watching Griefwalker.......it may pop out some lines today, if I'm lucky.

  13. I feel this one. Feel it. Powerful, as always.

  14. This is very good...very very good.

  15. thank you... very very much.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!