remorse: First attested circa 14th century, from Old French remors, from Medieval Latin remorsum, from Latin remordeō (“I torment, I vex,”, literally “I bite back”) from re- + mordeō (“I bite”).
ayenbite: From the roots of again + bite, a Middle English calque of Latin remordeo (“I cause remorse, literally ‘I bite back’”).
…another stabbing. Teenage boys arguing about their drug money. Talking to someone who’d heard of a fourteen year old girl being caught in crossfire where he lives, I talked about the youth of these people. He said, yes, he said, at that age they don’t understand that if you stab someone, you can take a life. And then it’s too late.
I had some news – that an elderly distant relative has passed away – at the age of 100, so that’s some innings, as they say. She was an upright spinster, who attended Mass every day, cared for her parents until they died, went to university in a time when few poor girls could do so and had a career as a teacher. I want to pay my meagre tribute to this great lady, unsung, out-of-date, righteous and, I hope, blessed.What I feel is that well-remembered deep, fond sorrow, inexpressible, separate from the shame.
Thomas Moore (New Age alert…) says that there is a difference between regret and remorse. Regret is indulgent, self-pitying. Remorse is, as the word suggests, biting. It bites hard, and unrelentingly, especially when there is no way to make amends. My own mea culpa is that I did not stay in touch in a fraught period of my life and when I realised that I had not heard from this lady in a while, my letters went unanswered and I supposed that she was ailing and in the care of her extended family. I was, you see, busy and far away. I was, you see, forging my own life. We had little in common, really. She was not modern, and I am mortally afraid of the disapproval of stern older ladies. That was, as another of our dear departed would put it “self-justifying rubbish”. But there it is, you see, there comes a time when it is just too late. It’s easier to see in another person than in ourselves. The dreaded words ‘I didn’t mean it’ or ‘I didn’t do anything…’ or ‘No-one did x, y, z for me…’ or ‘It’s not my fault because..’ come back to haunt us, with extra whining.
Strange as well that yesterday I was thinking about this lady when writing about Purgatory, a subject on which she was wont to expound, in what I thought such an old-fashioned way.
I read a quote by CS Lewis today. He said:
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
Or, for want a nail, the shoe was lost….
Kriemhild is haunted by her remorse – Henry Fuseli