Friday, November 03, 2006

Augustine and Beckett on dying

'For from the very beginning of our existence in this dying body, there is never a moment when death is not at work in us. ... Certainly there is no one who is not closer to it this year than he was last year, and tomorrow than today, and today than yesterday, and a little while hence than now, and now than a little while ago.'

- Augustine, City of God XIII.10.

A cheery thought for a Friday afternoon. Won't you all be glad when I stop reading Augustine? To stay in theme, here's another favourite quote:
Pozzo: (suddenly furious). Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? (Calmer.) They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.
...
Vladimir: Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps.

- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Act II

7 comments:

Ben Myers said...

Beautiful! That's one of my favourite moments in Waiting for Godot (which is also my favourite play).

Anonymous said...

What a hilarious juxtaposition. It could be a whole new series - Patristics/Theatre of the Absurd... an academic discipline in the making?

Christian A said...

"Teach us to number our days" (Ps 90:12)...sounds like Augustine numbered his life in even smaller units than that!

Lachlan b said...

Noel Rowe has a poem called "Next to Nothing" with these wonderful lines:
"she’s learning how to live/ with death inside her/ where it’s always been".

It's about his sister who has cancer.

byron said...

Thanks Lachlan, and hi.
Sounds like an image for all of us, according to Augustine. Although he speaks more about all of us being 'in death', rather than death being in us.

lachlan b said...

Hi Byron,

There is also a great poem by Rilke called "End Poem".

Death is immense.
We all are his
with laughing mouths.
When we are in
the midst of life
he dares to weep
right in our midst.

byron said...

Wow, I really like that one. I might go and post it in the comments under another poem about death I posted a while back (it helps my memory to keep things like that together).