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Murphy's Musings: Editorial

This is a highly irregular, and often irreverent (if not irrelevant) set of editorials reflecting my views on a wide swath of issues. You might wonder why I don't just use a blog; I have my reasons.


Cast a Cold Eye...

Those words may live on far longer than the poet who wrote them. They are, of course, the words of one who was my compatriot, who is buried in a graveyard not far from Ben Bulben in Sligo, Ireland: William Butler Yeats. He has the distinction of being one of the few poets who wrote his own epitaph:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

A year or so ago, I found (or rather, found again) this excerpt from the poem "Under Ben Bulben". We (my family) had recently lost not one, but both of our Belgian Sheepdogs within the span of less than 6 months. They were only 4 and 9 years old, respectively, both much too young to pass over the "rainbow bridge". Those losses, combined with several other traumatic events (including having a deer jump in front of my car, totalling it), caused me to refer to 2005 as the "year from hell".

Now here I am remembering Yeats' verse again. My father passed away recently, and through a cruel accident of fate (expired passport) I found myself unable in all practical terms to just jump on the first jet to Ireland to comfort and be comforted by my family members there. A very primal and fundamental part of me cried out to just "be there" and I could not. By the time the passport issue was sorted out -- and it was, fast -- the funeral was over, so I postponed my Irish visit a few months.

I also find myself pondering what has to be the bizarre nature of our existence in this amazing universe (yes, even the answer to life, the universe, and everything), and questioning (not for the first time) that so fundamental question: why are we here? It seems that no amount of thinking helps to illuminate the answer, if there even is one. However, looking back at the life of my Dad, I find more than ample solace. It seems that he perhaps was able to understand this quandary better than I have been so far. This has inspired me to write something about him, his life, and his legacy.

I was also unhappy that I couldn't find a single reference to him online, so I took fingers to keyboard, and photos to scanner, and with the help of my family in Ireland, came up with a web page dedicated to Humphrey Murphy. It doesn't quite do him justice, but it's a start. Now if only I could find a recording of his music preserved...

— Pat Murphy, May 27th, 2007
Revised November 29, 2007.

[Powered by Apache!] Patrick P. Murphy
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA