1 EAGLETON NOTES: My Last Few Days

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Monday, 11 November 2019

My Last Few Days

Actually I'm rather hoping that they were not my last few days. I've got a lot more I want to achieve in life. In a recent post Kate mentioned both Lucy Ashton singing "Easy live and quiet die" in Room With A View. It is in fact from Sir Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor.

Look not thou on beauty’s charming,
Sit thou still when kings are arming,
Taste not when the wine-cup glistens,
Speak not when the people listens,
Stop thine ear against the singer,
From the red gold keep thy finger;
Vacant heart and hand and eye,
Easy live and quiet die.

Kate also mentioned Dylan Thomas's Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


I have to say that if I interpret Dylan Thomas's poem correctly then he feels that I should be less than pleased if the last few days were, in fact, my very last. In fact I hope that when my end finally comes (which I'm hoping will not be for a good while yet) I shall be able to say that I have had a Good Life and, latterly, an "easy life" in the poetical sense and that I shall be able to "quietly die". 

However that was not what my post was supposed to be about. Never mind. I won't test your patience with any more in this post. Perhaps tomorrow....or the day after.

I did wonder, however, whom amongst my friends and acquaintances would rage and whom would quietly die.

30 comments:

  1. Please place me in the "quietly die" column. However, this maybe due to my age and were I younger I might rage a bit!

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    1. Jill, I wish that it were that simple. When I was told 11 years ago that there was probably no cure for my cancer at that time and was offered a 'slim chance treatment with guaranteed collateral damage' I jumped at it. I had no intentions of denying myself (a la 'Easy Live and Quiet Die') but neither did I rage at the possibility of an impending death. That was then but what would I do now?

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  2. I plan on not making a sound. Call me quietly.

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  3. Goodness Graham, this all sounds a little worrying . . . I hope this reflection has not been brought upon by somthing particularly scary?

    I have no idea whether my demise will be quiet or loud, but I would like to think it will not be for some considerable time - I have an awful lot still to do 😉

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    1. Actually, Jayne, I was going to mention (and still probably will) what I'd been up to for the last few days but Kate's post made me think along different lines.

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  4. In his defence, I think I remember that Thomas wrote the poem because his Dad just 'gave up' and he was really sad and angry and all kinds of things (grief) when his Dad did die. That's why it's so strong and powerful and beautifully written. Ironically DT himself drank too much and died young ... ! But I agree with Jill - there's a time when you lack the energy to do stuff, and you become wise and peaceful and relaxed, and no longer want to take risks or photograph iguanas in Costa Rica. But I hope (returning to ME) I will still enjoy beauty and appreciate a nice drop of something liquid etc. I am sure Scott's poem is meant to be ironic.

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    1. Kate, I read Scott's poem in the light of its use Room With a View never having read The Bride of Lammermoor. To me it represented Lucy's peace and determination to live a life of self-denial. I'm just happy that Mr Beebe's attitude won the day.

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  5. I don't think we get much choice in this event. I like to think that I have accepted my own end.

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    1. Red, who knows what awaits us? In 2005 at 61 or so I was in a dark place with little idea that some of the most wonderful years of my life were still to come.

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  6. This is a sad post. I don't like thinking about how I'll die. I hope it is quick and quiet.

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    1. Sorry, Diane, it wasn't meant to be a sad post. However, like you, I hope when death does come it will be quick and quiet.

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  7. I have Dylan Thomas's 'complete works' permanently by my side on my desk. I occasionally read his 'Do not go gently', and have always thought of is simply as making a fuss about having to die. Sadly I think most don't have the energy.

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  8. Don't we all want our own death and that of those we care about be as quick, quiet and smooth as possible? I sometimes think my late husband did the right thing when he died so completely out of the blue, with no illness, fear or pain, 10 years ago. He will never have to deal with the physical and mental signs of getting older, and his biggest fear - that I die before him - will never come true.
    When I saw just the headline of this post on my dashboard, I thought for a moment that this was indeed going to be about your last days, but then I thought, no, Graham will just report what he's been up to over the last few days. It makes a big difference, doesn't it: Few last days or last few days!

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    1. Meike, my next post will be what I was up to in "My Few Previous Days" to avoid any doubt.

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  9. For the record, I have never wanted to photograph iguanas in Costa Rica.

    I would like to think I will die quietly, but one never knows. I may rage. I am capable of both quietness and raging, and one never knows what may trigger the one or the other. Mercurial, that's me in a nutshell. High highs. Low lows. And no, I have never been diagnosed as manic-depressive or bi-polar. I'm not saying I'm not, I'm just saying I have never been diagnosed as such. Gor, Graham, you got me going this morning. Thanks a lot.

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    1. I think, Bob, that Kate was her own with the iguanas.

      I'm glad that I managed to get you going. That was, if I may say so, quite a go.

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  10. I think I'm at the point in life where I can't be bothered raging, just plodding along and taking life as it comes, enjoying the ups and downs, life is too short to get up and arms about stuff I can't control.

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    1. Amy, I couldn't agree more. If I can't do anything about it then I don't worry about it.

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  11. An intriguing and rather obtuse blogpost that left me somewhat flummoxed.

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    1. Well, YP, I never thought I'd see or hear you flummoxed. Especially as you are a literary man and a poet. Perhaps, though, that's why my post flummoxed you.

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  12. You ask a serious question here. Rage against the dying, does that mean the same as fight for the life? I honestly don't know. I've sat by the sides of family as they faded from some illness and asked that question.

    Well said.

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    1. Susan, if raging against dying is what the poem means (and reading it with no background knowledge that was my interpretation) then I'm not sure that it is the same as fighting for life. I would do my best to stay alive whilst I was capable of a quality of life but thereafter I wouldn't rage. Leastways I don't think I would.

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  13. Years ago my mum said she had no desire to live long and for me as a young woman it was frightening to hear. Then she got breast cancer and didn't hesitate for a moment in her treatment choices. She's been cancer free now for at least 12 years and I learnt that none of us can really say how we will face anything at all.
    I'm so pleased you've had 11 beautiful years and I hope there are many more

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    1. Thank you Kylie. I'm not sure we can ever know how we will react. May your Mum live long and be cancer free.

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  14. Hi Graham, I occasionally rage about old age which is slowly but surely leading me to certain death. I hope when the time comes I will be too worn out by a life well lived to have the energy for rage, and go quietly. May not though, it might catch me on a bad day.

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    1. Pauline, I thought that was the most quotable comment I've seen. I thought I had responded but I must have been laughing and thinking too much. It reminds me of the quote I had on a wall in The Cottage which now resides on a wall here: Life isn't about dawdling to the grave arriving safely in a wrinkle-free body but rather an adventure that ends skidding in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, totally worn out, screaming "Yee-ha. What a ride!!"

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  15. So hard to tell, isn't it... Probably depends a great deal on the actual last days! I suppose most of us would rather either not know at all (like Meike writes about), or else feel that "it's time". The rage probably better spent while it may still accomplish something! (like staying alive)

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  16. I've always found that voicing a plan is a sure way to confirm that whatever happens will be fairly the exact opposite, so I hesitate to say what kind of end I may or may not have. Whatever comes, I just want to make sure I did the very best I could with the stuff I had to work with. There are very wealthy and powerful people who aren't worth a hill of beans, and there are folks who live a simple life that are more precious than words can say. If, when I am gone, it can be said that I did the best I could, helped all living creatures to the best of my ability, and made sure that everyone watched "It's A Wonderful Life" at least once, then that is good enough for me.

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