Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960

   

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An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

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Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1615

Translation - Ormsby.

Death of Don Quixote

 
Death of Don Quixote

          With this he closed his will, and a faintness coming over him he stretched himself out at full length on the bed. All were in a flutter and made haste to relieve him, and during the three days he lived after that on which he made his will he fainted away very often. The house was all in confusion; but still the niece ate and the housekeeper drank and Sancho Panza enjoyed himself; for inheriting property wipes out or softens down in the heir the feeling of grief the dead man might be expected to leave behind him.

          At last Don Quixote’s end came, after he had received all the sacraments, and had in full and forcible terms expressed his detestation of books of chivalry. The notary was there at the time, and he said that in no book of chivalry had he ever read of any knight-errant dying in his bed so calmly and so like a Christian as Don Quixote, who amid the tears and lamentation of all present yielded up his spirit, that is to say died. On perceiving it the curate begged the notary to bear witness that Alonse Quixano the Good, commonly called Don Quixote of La Mancha, had passed away from this present life, and died naturally; and said he desired this testimony in order to remove the possibility of any other author save Cide Hamete Benengeli bringing him to life again falsely and making interminable stories out of his achievements.

          Such was the end of the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha, whose village Cide Hamete would not indicate precisely, in order to leave all the towns and villages of La Mancha to contend among themselves for the right to adopt him and claim him as a son, as the seven cities of Greece contended for Homer. The lamentations of Sancho and the niece and housekeeper are omitted here, as well as the new epitaphs upon his tomb; Sanson Carrasco, however, put the following lines:

                   A doughty gentleman lies here;

                   A stranger all his life to fear;

                   Nor In his death could Death prevail,

                   In that last hour, to make him quail.

                   He for the world but little cared;

                   And at his feats the world was scared;

                   A crazy man his life he passed,

                   But in his senses died at last.

         
And said most sage Cide Hamete to his pen, “Rest here, hung up by this brass wire, upon this shelf, O my pen, whether of skilful make or clumsy cut I know not; here shalt thou remain long ages hence, unless presumptuous or malignant story-tellers take thee down to profane thee. But ere they touch thee warn them, and, as best thou canst, say to them:

                  

Hold off! Ye weaklings; hold your hands!

                   Adventure it let done,

                   For this empire, my lord the king,

                   Was meant for me alone.      

 

 

   
 

Adrienne Nater, 2008

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