Love after Love

The title may confuse you. Perhaps one should emphasize the word after. Another way would be to say it is love after loss — after heartbreak, after someone says, “Not you. Someone else perhaps, but not you.” 

They mean it even when they don’t say it, or so you believe.

You know what such abandonment is — among life’s most miserable, desperate, devitalizing events.

Life-sucking, soul crushing.

And yet, Derek Walcott, the late Nobel Prize-winning poet, would have told you there is another who you have forgotten and should turn to.

Yourself — to love yourself.

Walcott knew. He knew what rejection created in its object. You have no value or not enough. Even without explanation, you wonder. “Did I do something? Was I not bright, wealthy, beautiful enough, not handsome?”

“Inconsiderate, perhaps, or cruel.”

“Was I too old, too immature, unfunny?”

The questions go on endlessly until time, your friend, helps you heal. But Walcott offers more. A poetic guide to assist in your own healing. The reader is the actress Helen Bonham Carter. The second reading is by David Whyte.

Read, and when in discontent, remember the final line.

Love after Love

Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

18 thoughts on “Love after Love

  1. Well you have done it for a second time Dr. Stein. How do you find such appropriate topics that certainly must apply only to me 😉

    Seriously, this post is so relatable to what I experienced after divorce. I knew there was a stranger living in my body, someone who had morphed into what I thought I had to be to please another. I needed to find myself again, and have written about the feeling of complete freedom from the moment the judge declared my marriage over. I didn’t like that other person very much. She had compromised a great deal of herself for too long. It truly has been amazing to “feast on (my) life” every day since. Thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’m glad this resonated with you Deb, and most grateful for your praise. There are enough common experiences in our world to create lots of resonance, including those injuries to the human heart when love and loss intermingle. I’m happy to know you found your way to “feast” on life, no small accomplishment.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Lovely! I feel like this can be true as a widow also. It’s truly a time of getting reacquainted with oneself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agreed, Lois. I’m sure no small part of such reacquaintance required bravery. In that department, you are well supplied. Thanks for your kudos.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is beautiful. Thank you!

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  4. Such comfort in a few simple words, “Sit. Feast on your life.” I love this, Dr. Stein. Comfort comes from within, returning to self and all the regenerative powers…that which is ever-present, but easily ignored. This line is so powerful: “Give back your heart to itself.” Many thanks to you for sharing. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love that you included two readings of this poem because it took both for me to really hear it. What struck me is that our relationship with ourself takes work just like our relationships with others. We become estranged, we forget to really look into the mirror, we fail to write notes to ourselves about what we like and love. And we eat standing up when we are the only person in the room instead of sitting — and feasting.

    Thank you for this beautiful post that speaks to my heart about the work I need to do — to stay in relationship with myself. What a great act of kindness this post is, Dr. Stein!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tamara Kulish from https://tamarakulish.com/

      These are my thoughts, only you worded them more eloquently!

      Liked by 2 people

    • That is useful to you is the best thanks, Wynne. And, of course, we all need to thank Walcott.

      As to hearing the readings, I actually had some trouble catching the last sentence from Bonham Carter. The second author altered and repeated words a bit, but was clearer to me. There are a few other renditions on the web, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Stein, for sharing Walcott’s insightful poem ❤ Both readings are excellent. I'm learning that it's never too late to "peel [my] own image from the mirror" and reconnect with myself. I guess the stories I tell is a way to "feast on [my] life" 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This hit me right in my heart Dr Stein…absolutely beautiful and the ultimate truth. The answers to it all. Always within…just patiently waiting to be realized ❤️🙏❤️

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  8. Thank you, Daniella. The writer’s answer was certainly within, but also involved engaging with the world without. We need to interact with that world and the people in it, without which it is hard to feel loveable to yourself or anyone.

    I suppose one might say it includes patience, action, and the courage to recreate ourselves perpetually. Thank you again, Danielle. You are a gentle soul.

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