It’s Halloween! In honor of the creepiest of holidays, why not contemplate your own mortality? GOOD TIMES!
Here are ten well-written or interesting conceived final goodbyes from folks (or folks who knew them) who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
1. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
[Gravestone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon]
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE THAT MOVES MY BONES
2. Edmund Spenser (1510-1596)
(expecting the second Comminge of our Saviour Christ Jesus)
the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his time;
whose divine spirit needs no other witness
than the works he left behind him.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was very ill in 1936 and was recovering at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina with the help of a private nurse. In addition to his failing health, the author was struggling with the decision to commit his wife, Zelda, to a mental institution at a nearby hospital. His essay about his own decline, The Crack-Up, had just been published in Esquire. Here, Fitzgerald voices an incredibly sad awareness of his own decline: “[M]y life had been a drawing on resources that I did not possess, that I had been mortgaging myself physically and spiritually up to the hilt,” he wrote.
It didn’t seem that anything could go right that year. Fitzgerald’s drinking had become increasingly problematic and he had significant money problems. That summer, he “fractured his shoulder while diving into the hotel swimming pool, and sometime later, according to Michael Cody at the University of South Carolina’s Fitzgerald Web site, “he fired a revolver in a suicide threat, after which the hotel refused to let him stay without a nurse.” (Source)
Eventually, the hotel relented and allowed Fitzgerald to have an attendant, a woman named Dorothy Richardson, who, in addition to tending to his physical needs, had the unenviable task of keeping the writer from drinking too much.
The two developed a friendship during his convalescence. At one point, apparently Dorothy asked what she should read. Here is the list Fitzgerald gave her, written in her own hand as he reeled off the titles and author’s names:
Here is a more legible list.
- Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
- The Life of Jesus, by Ernest Renan
- A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen
- Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
- The Old Wives’ Tale, by Arnold Bennett
- The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiel Hammett
- The Red and the Black, by Stendahl
- The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant, translated by Michael Monahan
- An Outline of Abnormal Psychology, edited by Gardner Murphy
- The Stories of Anton Chekhov, edited by Robert N. Linscott
- The Best American Humorous Short Stories, edited by Alexander Jessup
- Victory, by Joseph Conrad
- The Revolt of the Angels, by Anatole France
- The Plays of Oscar Wilde
- Sanctuary, by William Faulkner
- Within a Budding Grove, by Marcel Proust
- The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust
- Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust
- South Wind, by Norman Douglas
- The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield
- War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
- John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Complete Poetical Works
I could go on.
Here are ten great lines from literature that just might help you get lucky, too.
1. “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”
- From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
It’s Friday! Time to kick back with a summer read, dig your toes into the sand, and crack open one of these beauties. Who said beers couldn’t be high-brow?
White Whale Ale
Yes, it is actually made with pages ripped from the seams of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Le Petit Prince (or The Little Prince)
Lament on love and loss, and forget about that self-obsessed rose already.
The Raven Special Lager
I actually had this once. Nevermore, nevermore.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, once again frantic Google searches are conducted to find someone who has said what you would like to say. Here are ten writers who wrote letters to their beloveds. Some are touching, some are steamy, some are funny. Perhaps you will find some inspiration from their words.
July 6, 1806
My angel, my all, my very self — only a few words today and at that with your pencil — not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon — what a useless waste of time. Why this deep sorrow where necessity speaks — can our love endure except through sacrifices — except through not demanding everything — can you change it that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine?
Oh, God! look out into the beauties of nature and comfort yourself with that which must be — love demands everything and that very justly — that it is with me so far as you are concerned, and you with
me. If we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I!
Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other; moreover, I cannot communicate to you the observations I have made during the last few days touching my own life — if our hearts were always close together I would make none of the kind. My heart is full of many things to say to you – Ah! — there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all — cheer up — remain my true, only treasure, my all as I am yours; the gods must send us the rest that which shall be best for us.
15 August, 1904
My dear Nora,
It has just struck me. I came in at half past eleven. Since then I have been sitting in an easy chair like a fool. I could do nothing. I hear nothing but your voice. I am like a fool hearing you call me ‘Dear.’ I offended two men today by leaving them coolly. I wanted to hear your voice, not theirs.
When I am with you I leave aside my contemptuous, suspicious nature. I wish I felt your head on my shoulder. I think I will go to bed.
I have been a half-hour writing this thing. Will you write something to me? I hope you will. How am I to sign myself? I won’t sign anything at all, because I don’t know what to sign myself.
I liked your hand-walking act; that got me hotter than hell…. everything you do gets me hotter than hell…. throwing clay against the ceiling… you bitch, you red hot shrew, you lovely lovely woman…. you have put new poems and new hope and new joy and new tricks into an old dog, I love you, your pussy hairs I felt with my fingers, the inside of your pussy, wet, hot, I felt with my fingers; you, up against the refrigerator, you have such a wonderful refrigerator, your hair dangling down, wild, you there, the wild bird of you the wild thing of you, hot, lewd, miraculous…. twisting after your head, trying to grab your tongue with my mouth, with my tongue…. we were in Burbank and I was in love, ultramarine love, my good god damned godess, my goad, my bitch, my my my my beating breathing hair-lined cunt of Paradise, I love you… and your refrigerator, and as we grabbed and wrestled, that sculpted head watching us with his little lyrical cynical love-smile, burning…
I want you,
I want you,
I want YOU
YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU!
Paris, December 1795
I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?… My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!
You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.
Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.
“Look Here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”
Christ Church, Oxford, October 28, 1876
My Dearest Gertrude:
You will be sorry, and surprised, and puzzled, to hear what a queer illness I have had ever since you went. I sent for the doctor, and said, “Give me some medicine. for I’m tired.” He said, “Nonsense and stuff! You don’t want medicine: go to bed!”
I said, “No; it isn’t the sort of tiredness that wants bed. I’m tired in the face.” He looked a little grave, and said, “Oh, it’s your nose that’s tired: a person often talks too much when he thinks he knows a
great deal.” I said, “No, it isn’t the nose. Perhaps it’s the hair.” Then he looked rather grave, and said, “Now I understand: you’ve been playing too many hairs on the pianoforte.”
“No, indeed I haven’t!” I said, “and it isn’t exactly the hair: it’s more about the nose and chin.” Then he looked a good deal graver, and said, “Have you been walking much on your chin lately?” I said, “No.” “Well!” he said, “it puzzles me very much.
Do you think it’s in the lips?” “Of course!” I said. “That’s exactly what it is!”
Then he looked very grave indeed, and said, “I think you must have been giving too many kisses.” “Well,” I said, “I did give one kiss to a baby child, a little friend of mine.”
“Think again,” he said; “are you sure it was only one?” I thought again, and said, “Perhaps it was eleven times.” Then the doctor said, “You must not give her any more till your lips are quite rested
again.” “But what am I to do?” I said, “because you see, I owe her a hundred and eighty-two more.” Then he looked so grave that tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, “You may send them to her in a box.”
Then I remembered a little box that I once bought at Dover, and thought I would someday give it to some little girl or other. So I have packed them all in it very carefully. Tell me if they come safe or if any are lost on the way.”
My Own Boy,
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red-roseleaf lips of yours should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days. Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place and lacks only you; but go to Salisbury first.
Always, with undying love,
When two souls, which have sought each other for,
however long in the throng, have finally found each other …a union, fiery and pure as they themselves are… begins on earth and continues forever in heaven.
This union is love, true love, … a religion, which deifies the loved one, whose life comes from devotion and passion, and for which the greatest sacrifices are the sweetest delights.
This is the love which you inspire in me… Your soul is made to love with the purity and passion of angels; but perhaps it can only love another angel, in which case I must tremble with apprehension.
April 16, 1945
So now I’m going out on the boat with Paxthe and Don Andres and Gregorio and stay out all day and then come in and will be sure there will be letters or a letter. And maybe there will be. If there aren’t I’ll be a sad s.o.a.b. But you know how you handle that of course? You last through until the next morning. I suppose I’d better figure on there being nothing until tomorrow night and then it won’t be so bad tonight.
Please write me Pickle. If it were a job you had to do you’d do it. It’s tough as hell without you and I’m doing it straight but I miss you so [I] could die. If anything happened to you I’d die the way an animal will die in the Zoo if something happens to his mate.
Much love my dearest Mary and know I’m not impatient. I’m just desperate.
My beloved angel,
I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them.
I can no longer think of anything but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me.
As for my heart, there you will always be – very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me.
I rise up every moment saying to myself, “Come, I am going there!” Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything.
I feel foolish and happy as soon as I think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation!
Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads.
O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talk to you as if you were there. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful.
Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself “she is mine!” Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!