Tagore: Those who are near me do not know

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Those who are near me do not know that you are nearer to me than they are
Those who speak to me do not know that my heart is full with your unspoken words
Those who crowd in my path do not know that I am walking alone with you
They who love me do not know that their love brings you to my heart.

    —Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Gitanjali. He translated the poems into English himself.

The original Bengali poem (1901) and other Tagore poems can be found here. Thanks to Sourav Guha for the source.

   যারা কাছে আছে তারা কাছে থাক্‌, তারা তো পারে না জানিতে--
     তাহাদের চেয়ে তুমি কাছে আছ আমার হৃদয়খানিতে ॥
যারা কথা বলে তাহারা বলুক,   আমি করিব না কারেও বিমুখ--
     তারা নাহি জানে ভরা আছে প্রাণ তব অকথিত বাণীতে।
     নীরবে নিয়ত রয়েছে আমার নীরব হৃদয়খানিতে ॥
তোমার লাগিয়া কারেও, হে প্রভু,   পথ ছেড়ে দিতে বলিব না, কভু,
     যত প্রেম আছে সব প্রেম মোরে তোমা-পানে রবে টানিতে--
     সকলের প্রেমে রবে তব প্রেম আমার হৃদয়খানিতে।
সবার সহিতে তোমার বাঁধন   হেরি যেন সদা এ মোর সাধন--
     সবার সঙ্গ পারে যেন মনে তব আরাধনা আনিতে।
          সবার মিলনে তোমার মিলন
                   জাগিবে হৃদয়খানিতে ॥

 

Photo used by kind permission of Daniel Schwabe.


Chekhov: The profit of death is enormous

Dance-of-death-155976_1280
 
Death can only be profitable: there’s no need to eat, drink, pay taxes, offend people, and since a person lies in a grave for hundreds or thousands of years, if you count it up the profit turns out to be enormous.
 
 
не надо ни есть, ни пить, ни платить податей, ни обижать людей, а так как человек лежит в могилке не один год, а сотни, тысячи лет, то, если сосчитать, польза окажется громадная.

Jessica Morris: I am set on another path where they cannot follow me

Lonely man walking
 
The worst part of it is the feeling of loneliness. For these past almost five years I have been on a journey with my loved ones and friends around me. It’s as though we have been through the wars together, holding tight to one another. Now, with my time running short, I am being prised away from those I love and set on another path where they cannot follow me. I am on my own.
 
Jessica Morris in her memoir of her illness, All in My Head. She died on 8 June 2021 of glioblastoma
 
Image by Chris Ford on Flickr

Nigel Barley: Cameroon youth on what happens when you die

Cameroon-guys
“What happens to a man’s powers/soul/spirit after he dies?” I tried querulously, like a vicar hoping to get a current affairs discussion going at a youth club. They ignored me. Then one young man turned round and snapped, “How should I know? Am I God?”
 
Nigel Barley in The Innocent Anthropologist, describing a conversation with locals in Cameroon
Cited by Stephen Jones
 
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Photo by Bill Adams
 

Lü Buwei: The dead regard a myriad of years as the blink of an eye

Jmhullot Terracotta_Army _View_of_Pit_1
The dead regard a myriad of years as the blink of an eye. A man of the greatest longevity does not live more than a hundred; one of average longevity not more than sixty. If one employs the point of view of those who live a hundred or sixty years to make plans for those whose time is limitless, the feelings inevitably do not coincide.
 
The Annals of Lü Buwei (compiled about 240 BCE), "Record of the Beginning of Winter. Dying peacefully." Translated by John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel.  Lü Buwei (291–235 BCE) was the prime minister and regent for the king who became the First Emperor of China (the ancient historian Sima Qian said he was the king's real father, but modern historians doubt this). Lü was a great patron of scholars and ordered these annals compiled as a compendium of all of their knowledge.

This chapter inveighs against the construction of massive, costly tombs, which the writers argue benefit the living, not the dead they are supposed to honor. Lü fell afoul of the emperor at about the time of the publication of the
Annals and he was forced to commit suicide. The First Emperor's tomb may be the grandest ever built.
 
世之為丘壟也,其高大若山,其樹之若林,其設闕庭、為宮 、造賓阼也若都邑,以此觀世示富則可矣,以此為死則不可也。夫死,其視萬歲猶一瞚也。人之壽,久之不過百,中壽不過六十。以百與六十為無窮者之慮,其情必不相當矣。
呂氏春秋,孟冬記,安死
 
Photo by JMHullot, Wikimedia Commons. This army of the First Emperor's lifesize terracotta warriors, originally colorfully painted, was discovered 3.5 kilometers away from the main tomb, which has yet to be excavated.
 

Michael Rosen: I broke the rule that said I had to stay in the Land of the Dead

Hell-1046493_640 2015-11-16 Pixabay
 
...I'm a traveller
who reached
the Land of the Dead.
I broke the rule that said I had to stay.
I crossed back over the water.
I dodged the guard dog,
I came out.
I've returned.
 
I wander about.
 
I left some things down there....
 
Michael Rosen (1946–), beloved British children's book writer and illustrator, who survived being on a ventilator with COVID in April and May 2020. In the Guardian, 13 March 2021. The poem is from his book Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS