Memento: Vita Brevis

“No longer mourn for me when I am dead/Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell/Give warning to the world that I am fled/From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:/Nay, if you read this line,remember not/The hand that writ it; for I love you so/That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot/If thinking on me then should make you woe./Or if (I say)  you look upon this verse, /When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay, /Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,/But let  your love even with my life decay,

Lest the wise world should look into  your moan/And mock you with me after I am gone.”

—Shakespeare, Sonnet  71

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4 thoughts on “Memento: Vita Brevis”

  1. What a profound plea, prescribed to defend against grief of the inevitable death of a loved one. Therein is much psychology, used almost Judo-like. I am not sure if this would lessen the sense of loss or heighten it. I am pretty sure is did not leave it untouched.

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  2. I “liked” the post but I disagree with Shakespeare.

    Rather than say “when I die, forget me quick, lest your grief be used against you by the ‘Wise World,'”

    I would prefer, “be strong to resist the mockery of the ‘Wise World’ as you grieve or do anything.”

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  3. MJBubba:
    I “liked” the post but I disagree with Shakespeare.

    Rather than say “when I die, forget me quick, lest your grief be used against you by the ‘Wise World,’”

    I would prefer, “be strong to resist the mockery of the ‘Wise World’ as you grieve or do anything.”

    I think this is about a love the world can’t understand, and wouldn’t condone, like Marvel’s

    ”My love is of a birth as rare/As ‘tis, for object, strange and high:/ It was begotten by despair/Upon impossibility.”

    But in any event, you know how it is when you love someone, you can’t endure the thought of her undergoing any pain!  of  “A pity beyond all telling/Is hid in the heart of love” wrote Yeats.  W. S. just  wants to shield his beloved, even from the grave; he isn’t focused on her strength of character.  It’s the thought of anybody jeering at the beloved that makes him so mad: “vile” world,  “wise” (meaning cynical, snarky) world. I’m sure you can relate, dear MJB!

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  4. Hypatia:

    MJBubba:
    I “liked” the post but I disagree with Shakespeare.

    Rather than say “when I die, forget me quick, lest your grief be used against you by the ‘Wise World,’”

    I would prefer, “be strong to resist the mockery of the ‘Wise World’ as you grieve or do anything.”

    I think this is about a love the world can’t understand, and wouldn’t condone, like Marvel’s

    ”My love is of a birth as rare/As ‘tis, for object, strange and high:/ It was begotten by despair/Upon impossibility.”

    But in any event, you know how it is when you love someone, you can’t endure the thought of her undergoing any pain!  of  “A pity beyond all telling/Is hid in the heart of love” wrote Yeats.  W. S. just  wants to shield his beloved, even from the grave; he isn’t focused on her strength of character.  It’s the thought of anybody jeering at the beloved that makes him so mad: “vile” world,  “wise” (meaning cynical, snarky) world. I’m sure you can relate, dear MJB!

    Agreed.  Looking again, it is sad that the poet expects the ‘Wise World’ to mock at his loved one’s grief; this is an indictment of the world, on account of its worldliness and shallowness.

    Thanks for posting.

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