Departures: No One Gets Out Of This Alive

What  I enjoy most about writing prompts is watching the many different directions several writers might take with a single word or phrase. Inspiration is an awesome thing, yes, but inspiration is not free of being influenced by our own emotional focus  at the time of encountering a prompt.

DEPARTURES brought to my mind that ultimate departure — that final disembarking of life’s fast hard ride.  These thoughts led to what writers of long ago created for such a topic.

Because I Could Not Stop For Death, by Emily Dickenson

Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
And Immortality.

We slowly drove- He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess- in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-

Or rather- He passed us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet- only Tulle-

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground-
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice- in the Ground-

Since then- ’tis Centuries- and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity-

Notice how Emily doesn’t focus on who might remember her once she’s gone. Instead, she seems to be attempting to fill her own senses with things she might miss of this world. She doesn’t dwell on a sense of loss, but what wonders might await, in spite of her previous reluctance to consider stopping for the inevitable. Then again, we can always count on dear Emily to give an unexpected view of things, can’t we?

Farewell, by Anne Brontë

Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
O, beautiful, and full of grace!
If thou hadst never met mine eye,
I had not dreamed a living face
Could fancied charms so far outvie.

If I may ne’er behold again
That form and face so dear to me,
Nor hear thy voice, still would I fain
Preserve, for aye, their memory.

That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.

That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; —
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.

Adieu, but let me cherish, still,
The hope with which I cannot part.
Contempt may wound, and coldness chill,
But still it lingers in my heart.

And who can tell but Heaven, at last,
May answer all my thousand prayers,
And bid the future pay the past
With joy for anguish, smiles for tears?

Anne, on the other hand, wants memories and joy as payment for the loss of her loved one. All this traditional language within her writing, and yet, she’s got an entirely modern sense of  entitlement. What else do you find within these lines?

Regardless of what sparks of inspiration lit within after reading November’s first prompt, consider having a look at some writers of the past and their take. What little nuggets of wisdom, or hubris, might you find between the lines of the greats?


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2 Responses to Departures: No One Gets Out Of This Alive

  1. Pingback: Bell Work: Up, and Away! | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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