Thinking of the passing tonight of Nelson Mandela, the following lines keep coming to me, from a poem by Stephen Spender entitled “I Think Continually”:
“I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. . . .
“Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.”
(Read the whole poem here.)
If there is any person of the recent past who has “left the vivid air signed with their honour”, it is Nelson Mandela.