You can read this poem here.
This is one of those poems that you can feel has been born from experience. Its celebration of ‘the tender gravity of kindness’ moves me profoundly, because—like most people, probably, who have experienced a deep grief—I can really recognise that sense of being so broken down, broken open, that the slightest act of kindness and compassion pierces to the core. The feeling of being helpless with gratitude, and unable to do anything more than weep, is familiar to me. How unspeakably, wonderfully redemptive it is, when love reaches us through the medium of someone’s kindness. And it needn’t be something large or dramatic. I have wept with gratitude when a friend looked at me, assessed my state of being and, without saying anything, rolled up her sleeves and did the washing up.
There’s something so accurate, too, in those simple lines: ‘Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,/ you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing’. That they contain a paradox—how can both things be ‘deepest’?—seems entirely right, somehow. They remind me of the fact that grief and sorrow are simply other aspects of love—love whose object is lost. And that is such a precious reminder.