A Triptych of Tears

When Rav Rechumi used to frequent the home of [his teacher] Rava in the city of Machoza, he would always return to his home on Erev Yom Kippur. One year, Rava’s lecture lasted longer than usual. His wife waited for him at home. “He is coming, he is coming,” she reassured herself. But he did not come. She grew weak and faint, and tears began to fall from her eyes. Her husband, at that moment, was sitting atop a roof. The roof crumbled beneath him, and he died.
(Ketubot 62b)

* * *

Her tears fell with the dews at even
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or even-tide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, “The night is dreary,
He cometh not,” she said;
She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!”
(from Tennyson’s “Mariana”)

* * *

When a tear falls, that Thou falls which it bore,
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a diverse shore…..
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea what it may do too soon.
Let not the wind
Example find
To do me more harm than it purposeth;
Since thou and I sigh one another’s breath,
Whoe’er sighs most is cruelest, and hastes the other’s death.
(from Donne’s “A Valediction: Of Weeping”)

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