Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Many Different Lengths Of Time, By Brian Patten

For my late Dad, on Father’s day.

How long does a man live after all?
A thousand days or only one?
One week or a few centuries?
How long does a man spend living or dying?
And what do we mean when we say: “Gone forever”?

Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.
We can go to the philosophers
But they will weary of our questions
We can go to the priests and the rabbis
But they might be too busy with administrations.

So, how long does a man live after all?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret and ask so many questions –
Then when it comes to us
The answer is so simple, after all.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us
For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams – 
For as long as we ourselves live,
Holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch:
His children will carry the weight of his love
One friend will carry his arguments
Another will hum his favourite tunes
Another will still share his terrors.

And the days will pass with baffled faces
Then the weeks, then the months
Then there will be a day when no question is asked
And the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
And the puffed faces will calm.

And on that day he will not have ceased
But will have ceased to be separated by death.

How long does a man live after all?
A man lives so many different lengths of time.

posted by Kirk at 11:40 pm  


  1. Pretty nice post. I just came across your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

    Comment by Sarah — June 24, 2009 @ 12:48 am

  2. Thank you, Sarah. Your encouragement is most welcome and i look forward to seeing you here again.
    The Kaptain

    Comment by The Kaptain — June 24, 2009 @ 2:59 am

  3. I believe one of your adverts caused my browser to resize, you might want to put that on your blacklist.

    Comment by Stephen Mcbeath — August 1, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  4. sorry, Stephen – i have no adverts on my blogsite but get a continuous stream of “users”. i’m sorry for the inconvenience caused but simply don’t know how to block them. sincerely, k

    Comment by Kirk — August 4, 2011 @ 1:55 am

  5. this poem helped me so much in times of great distress after two close losses of dad’s in our lives – and now time as passed this poem still gives me hope that all is well – now written it out for a close friend who has lost his mum and dad within two weeks of each other so thankyou for your post – enjoy ya evening tracy m

    Comment by tracy — February 11, 2012 @ 6:41 pm