Everyone Owes God a Good Death

This phrase is echoed throughout book two.

It is little changed of course from Shakespeare’s Feeble

“By my troth, I care not. A man can die but once. We owe God a death.” in Henry IV, part 2.

It suggests a certain stalwart fortitude which is seemly before the battle that Feeble expects in the morning, going on to say that a death on the morrow should get him good accommodations in the next world.

I mean something different.

We human beings have this being from outside this world, outside this cosmos. We are created things, not randomly spliced together. If we are merely random then our deaths and lives are meaningless and you would not be bothered to read these words, the inconstant jottings of an error-prone mind, itself a mistake of nature.

We are created things. Created for a purpose, just like the computer entities Edie and Cain. We have rented these lives, only to relinquish them in time to the Landlord and give an accounting of our tenancy.

It is in the leaving of the rental property of our lives that accountings are made. The Landlord is forgiving, fortunately. He loved us enough to create us. But death is still a leave-taking and our debt is still to the one who owns the digs we have put our feet up in for a lifetime.

Jill’s Poem

(Author note: I wrote this over eight years ago on the death of an acquaintance. I am feeling maudlin with the death of a close cousin, Thomas Moore. His funeral is today and serendipitously I found the poem I had thought lost)

Poem on the Death of a Young Friend

What can you say when one dies out of time?
When promise of years yields a handful of days?

The adventure of death is best led by those,
Who are wrought full with deeds both the great and the small
Or with gall;
Thus making, of Death a surcease from the trials
Of trophies brief, lost and triumphs cheap, brazen;
And damned defeats, profound, shameful and sure,
Which death’s seal finds finished, the entire forsaken.

But blooms (for girls be our kindred’s fair blossoms),
Should unfold and ripened with time and with love.
Nor should they fall dying,
Neglected and withering.

More, what malign wraith bids a body play rebel,
And unmakes its mistress to hideous death,
To leave us all Jill-less thenceforward forever;
Bereft of Jill’s wit, her wonder, her way?

Would not it be better, more proper and right-some,
Old Mentor to die, young Atlas to live?
In like, aged I should have ashes mine scattered,
While Jill gladdens hearts right and left as she’s wont?

I feel a great river of Me has come slower,
Yet wider and slighter to fade out in swamp;
While Jill’s, snow-melt cascade of running bright water,
Should canyons cut deeply long way on its course.

E’en yet, we old rivers, embanked and embedded
Find us made new in the meeting of streams,
Revital, renew and restock with her will
We old ones once more may be crystalline kills.

Jill’s like that, you know, she inhabits our lives;
Invigors our thoughts and engenders our laughs.
She is gone.
And I grieve for my loss and her leaving,
Both selfish and sanguine these sentiments mine.

But the truth is, we know, when our tears are abated,
It’s she still is here ‘moungst us, thought, motive and mime.
She will colour our goings, our comings, our triumphs,
But better yet into our faults, failings and fears,
For she’s shown us the way it is to be done,
To wring us a living from losing and pain,
We all will die likewise (as Jill has done first-wise)
Not a one of us gets to leave here alive,
While we wait we’ve a model of what is it to us
Much better than art or conceit may contrive.
Wcb 2009rev1/13

Scotsman’s Lament

While rustic, wrothy reckless Scots,
Reviewed from crags the glistening tarns,
Amid the gales and gusts of yore, 
You can believe their knees were sore.
The warmest hose, which have not trod,
Through bog or kyll to martial tune,
But else have kept to road and brig,
Still, lack a certain latitude–
And choose to venture not above
The Tropic of the Fatted Calf.
In liked-manner woolen twill
Of partied-colors, tartaned pleats,
Ere many trepidation, girt,
But dares not descend,
In fear lest it be called a Skirt!
Bereft of covering, to lurk,
This most of all neglected joints,
By Winters’ hard eternal work
The knee is reddened, roughed and rouged.
No doubt the Scots’ renown-ed scowl,
Of dour men, of mien and brow,
Is due to knees in part or whole
Which lack some lotion to console.


[written for Joseph H Boutwell in a gift of a kilt, his first]

Dec 2010