The what that nothing what
September 19, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I dimly remember some lines from a poem or novel that go something like, "The something something, which something something, something something something, that nothing [heals/helps]" Basically I remember the cadence, but very few of the words. The lines were very poignant. What were they?

What I remember, in bits and pieces:

- The final clause, which I think was 'that nothing heals', felt rhythmically unbalanced. It added to the sense of incompleteness or irresolvability conveyed in the lines. The same mood you get from a half-line in poetry. It might even have been a half-line, but it feels more like a line of prose that happened to have a particularly pronounced rhythm.
- I think it was something about human hearts, but possibly only thematically.
- I think the sentence was a long run-on one, full of commas and possibly of subclauses, which further isolated the phrase at the end.
- It feels like it was the last sentence of a novel, though I suspect it isn't.
- Again, I have the possibly-erroneous feeling that it came from a mid-twentieth-century English writer, someone like Auden or Waugh.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about, but obviously this isn't it, as it is just a rephrasing of my question:

"In every human heart there is an echo, a dim memory of words heard once and almost forgotten, a trace which remains only because for a few moments they reminded the hearer of something else, an older hurt, the oldest of all, that nothing heals."

Any ideas?
posted by Acheman to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't fit all your criteria, but... maybe?
We scarce in thousands meet one kindred mind,
And if the long-sought good at last we find,
When least we fear it, Death our treasure steals,
And gives our heart a wound that nothing heals.
From Cowper's Milton (here's one source)
posted by argonauta at 9:12 AM on September 19, 2011

Semi-random shots in the dark:

Thanatopsis, by William Cullen Bryant
When You are Old, by William Butler Yeats

There's another one tickling my brain that may take time to remember, if I remember it at all. I'll be curious to see what the answer is, should it be found.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:19 AM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Is it Larkin's 'Faith Healing'?

“In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.”
posted by piato at 9:39 AM on September 19, 2011 [15 favorites]

The end of "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens?
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2011

I was about to say it sounded like Larkin's cadences, but piato beat me to it.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:53 PM on September 19, 2011

Response by poster: That's it, piato! I can't believe you managed to get there from my incredibly incredibly scanty and sometimes misleading description! Imagine your back being vigorously patted for a considerable period of time.
posted by Acheman at 1:20 PM on September 19, 2011

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