Eavan Boland, “Outside History”

There are outsiders, always. These stars—
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened

thousands of years before
our pain did: they are, they have always been
outside history.

They keep their distance. Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and

a landscape in which you know you are mortal.
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:

Out of myth into history I move to be
part of that ordeal
whose darkness is

only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.

How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late. We are always too late.

(And now I’m too late writing this poem)

When Pompeii was destroyed, the meaning of Pompeii remained.

John M. Frame. “The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God”. 1987. pgs 34-35. Footnote.

A few weeks ago, I posted a letter to my daughter who will be born next week, so I have the act of naming a person in my head as I read this footnote from John Frame’s book.

He goes on to say:

Each piece of language has a multitude of uses, and we learn these by degrees–one by one, better and better. Knowing the meaning of a sentence like “2 + 2 = 4” is not something that occurs once-for-all in completed fashion, so that one either does or does not know the meaning. Rather we learn more and more… of its implications, its relations to other statements, its applications to technology, and so forth. God, of course, knows the meanings of all words, phrases, and statements exhaustively.

 As Frame says, all language has this growing potential for meaning that none of us can possibly sound out. Each word a galaxy in an expanding universe of human knowledge. Names of children, though, I think, bear more gravity, and following the galaxy-words analogy, are stars producing raw materials for all the words that surround them throughout their lives.

I am aware of a slivered history of the word “Mayah”–the name of my daughter–but what degrees of meaning may grow, one by one, better and better in the frightful flexing of her face in the hospital; the unmannered twitch of her arms for balance when she’s unswaddled; the damp-paper wail of her first words-before-words. All those in her first moments.

Again like Frame says, “Nothing is more important in Scripture than the sense of mystery that it conveys, the attitude of awe that it evokes from its readers.” Nothing in Scripture, and so nothing in names which God has kindly allowed us to relate to Him.

And this is sure: All names are entropic in the gravity of God’s name.