Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over and the lamps expire." (Robert E. Howard)

I know this is morbid but I have always been a bit fascinated by suicide notes.
Yes, yes, that does sound a bit wrong but it’s a strangely rewarding feeling to read someone’s last words and wonder what they were thinking at the time.
Captain L.E.G Oates’ famous remark, for instance, as he left Scott’s tent during the ill-fated Antarctic expedition, knowing he was slowing the others down and after having begged them to leave him behind, “I’m just going outside; I may be away some time” might be stretching the definition of a suicide note but it never fails to give me chills.
French writer Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort’s - “And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead” - has always been a favourite for poignancy, while at the other end of the scale there is Hunter S Thompson (and you can insert your own ‘who went out with a bang’ joke here) whose note I find weirdly comforting:
“No more Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun for anybody. 67. You are getting greedy. Act your old age.
Relax. This won’t hurt.”
Meanwhile if you’re going to use your death to get back at someone who has treated you poorly you could do worse than cribbing from poet Sara Teasdale who left this stinging slap for the lover who’d left her:

“When I am dead, and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain drenched hair,
Though you should lean above me broken hearted,
I shall not care,
For I shall have peace.
As leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough.
And I shall be more silent and cold hearted
Than you are now.”


Lindsay said...

There is someone still alive whose note will haunt me til the end of my days. I really want to ask but probably never can't: "did you speak of me?" I loved you, so much. Did you think of me?

L x

Lindsay said...

There's a rather spectacular book of eulogies goign around the traps. I'm trying to track it down. Glad to see you are as morbid as me.

my name is kate said...

Yeah we really need to get some wholesome hobbies, don't we?

Dave said...

I loved (for want of a better word) Hunter S Thompson's last note. It summed him up and explained everything. And Oates' comment is something that has stuck with me since I first heard it in primary school. Good post Kate.

CB One said...

Teasdale must have assumed that her ex-lover would have cared. What if he didn't - then what did she get out of it? Sweet fuck all that's what, because now she's dead. Can't get your revenge after that can you.

my name is kate said...

Aw I thought I get a bunch of comments saying what a weirdo I am. How refreshing.

HST’s note really does sum him up. I love how matter-of-fact it is ‘I’ll miss this, won’t miss that, bit bored and not enjoying myself so ta ta’ and if anyone hasn’t read the heartbreaking end of Scott’s diaries (including his description of Oates leaving the tent) you should – they’re actually online for free somewhere if you google it.

And yeah the same thought occurred to me, cb – either it was a really harsh mood to make someone feel awful or it was a bit pointless because he didn’t give a shit…

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Anonymous said...

Love the REH quote, and used it as my last posting on FaceBook after noting how much time I wasted on the site and having decided to walk away from it.

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