At Dean Faulkner Wells’s graveside service yesterday, everyone sang “Bye Bye Blackbird,” which (as I’m sure Dean was fully aware would happen when she asked for that) broke everyone up, and Jim Dees read the excerpt below from Wallace Steven’s “Sunday Morning.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or an old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Dees said that, long ago, Dean and Willie Morris each agreed they wanted this read at their funerals. At Willie’s funeral, Dean realized it had been omitted, and, as Will Campbell went up to speak, she grabbed Campbell, handed it to him, and said, “Read this.”