Death in Do Not Go Gentle, City Cafeteria, Death Shall Have no Dominion and Grandparents
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Death in Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, City Cafeteria, And Death Shall Have no Dominion and Grandparents
Death is a highly personal event. It affects each of us differently. It affected Peter Kocan's man in the City Cafeteria by making him look empty and disoriented. It affected Dylan Thomas by making him think about what there was afterward, and what you could do to avoid it. Death even affected Robert Lowell by making him realise how much it changed his life. I, fortunately, seem to have avoided death in many ways, but also have been touched by it, even recently.
While preparing for this essay, ironically, one of my family pets died. It was a chicken named Ellephante, which belonged to my younger sister. I didn't know what to think. I don't think, even now, several days later, that I feel the chicken has gone. I suppose I'm denying it. I constantly revisit, in my mind, the times I went into my back yard to be greeted with a flutter of wings and a white body racing down the hill to greet me. I imagine this feeling to be similar to the one expressed in Grandparents, by Robert Lowell. He feels, as he walks around the farm, which now belongs to him, certain pangs of loneliness, of missing his grandparents. Small things set him off - the gramophone and the billiard table with the coffee stain. Small things still set my sister off - going up to the chook shed to feed the remaining chooks, or looking out the window and not seeing that other white shape we came to know and love as Ellephante.
Taken before its time (the next-door dog is undoubtably the culprit), I do not feel that Ellephante 'went gentle into that good night'. Ellephante was a feisty chicken, always very vocal and very affectionate and tame...
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I look to death as Dylan Thomas does - as a natural progression from life. I don't know quite what I believe in - some days it's reincarnation, some days it's a very scientific returning to a state of atoms in different forms, some days (when I'm upset) it's just being buried and then it stops, some days it's being taken from this world to another. I don't know that I believe in a Heaven or Hell, as such, but it's nice to think about it some times. Unlike so many people I know, I don't fear death - I used to, but I have come to accept it as an inevitable part of life, which everyone will have to face. I just know that when it's my time to depart, I want people to remember the good times and not to dwell on the bad.
"It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other."
Francis Bacon - 'Essays "Of Death"'