Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Looking for Leopardi: “I Died for Beauty”

I have been asked to edit a piece for Traces, the CL magazine. It is a lengthy interview with two women who knew one of my all-time favorite Catholics, male or female—Dorothy Day.

I was poking along through the interview transcript when I came across a poem by Emily Dickinson that I had never read: “I Died for Beauty.” I read the poem and thought: Yes.

One of the places on which I plant my flag of faith is the mountaintop where truth, beauty, and goodness converge. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” was Flannery O’Connor’s thought. If it’s beautiful, it must be good, it must be true, is mine. I believe that Emily Dickinson would have camped right here in this spot with Flannery and me—

I died for Beauty—but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining room—

He questioned softly “Why I failed”?
“For Beauty,” I replied—
“And I—for Truth—Themself are One—
We Brethren, are,” He said—

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night—
We talked between the Rooms—
Until the Moss had reached our lips—
And covered up—our names.

If you wonder why this post is titled the way it is, check out part 1 here.

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