Friday, September 15, 2006

Death Notes

I know it sounds morbid but on my long commute today I started thinking about the "literature" of suicide notes. The one that came immediately to mind was that left by Robert E. Howard before he shot himself. It read:

All fled, all done
so lift me on the pyre
the feast is over
and the lamps expire

Hart Crane had something much simpler to say just before he jumped over the side of the ship he was on. He said: "Goodbye, everybody!"

Once I got to school I did a quick net search and found there are quite a few sites that post suicide notes, and, more morbidly, there are sites that let you construct your own.

Strangely, in looking over some of these sites, I found the "better" sayings were often uttered, not by suicides who you might think had plenty of time to formulate their note, but by people on their deathbeds from other causes. One of my favorites is by Oscar Wilde. His last words were: "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do." H.G. Wells' last words were: "Go away. I'm all right." Pancho Villa's last words are rather humorous to us today: He ended with: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

The saddest I found, which sounds like a truly horrific suicide note but wasn't, was by Leonardo Da Vinci. His last words were: "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have." Talk about being your own harshest critic.

Maybe I should start working on my last words now so I can get them right. If I had died in my first major motorcycle wreck my last word(s) would have been: "Shit!" If I'd died in my second one the ending phrase would have been: "Dammit, not again." Somehow I don't think those quite compare with: "I've had eighteen straight whiskeys. I think that's the record," which were the last words of Dylan Thomas.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Mine is quite simple, though visual. The Grim Reaper waiting for me to finsh typing as I write to Charles: "Gotta's my ride!"

Sidney said...

Wayne's thought reminds me of the great Warren Zevon's "My Ride's Here," actually released before he was diagnosed with cancer, I think.

I used to have the Howard note as a screen saver.