Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Deathbed Portrait

I would like to look this peaceful when I cross the Great Divide.

I would not like to have pencil drawings made of me.

But then I'm not John Morris.

I wouldn't mind someone writing a poem.

Like this one by Dylan Thomas.

Or this one by Tennyson.
Which puts me in mind of this momento mori, commissioned by the great metaphysical poet John Donne not too long before he died.

This custom was common in his time. Donne, however, after his beloved wife Anne died, seemed to have anticipated the soft-footed arrival of Death far more than most of us! He preached on it, declaring in his last sermon that "We have a winding sheet in our mother's womb, which grows with us from our conception, and we come into the world wound up in that winding sheet, for we come to seek a grave."

Some of his most famous poetry was inspired by his fixation on death as well--the constantly quoted lines, "No man is an island/entire of itself... Therefore send not to know/ for whom the bell tolls,/It tolls for thee."

I liked him better when he was licentious.


Julie said...

Inspiring. How they can face death with such a compassionate and romantic mindset.

emily.mcintyre said...

Indeed, there is much worth in these calm approaches to death!