'Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch
Reflecting on a thousand-year-old poem.
Isn't it, though?
Is there anything else that leaves us as vulnerable?
And yet we do it repeatedly—mostly altruistically—so consistently that words written almost one thousand years ago come to life anew each time they're read:
‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.
— Yehuda Halevi
I wish I could say I found this poem while delving into classic literature but in truth, I was watching Netflix. In the last episode of a fun Western miniseries called Godless, a pastor recites this poem at a funeral. I was so moved by it that I had to look it up.
"Tis a Fearful Thing" was written by Yehuda Halevi, a Jewish physician, poet, and philosopher. He was born in Spain almost one thousand years ago never imagining his words would resonate a thousand years later in times so full of love and loss as these.
But that's the thing about words, they live on.
And the thing about love? It makes us human.