Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Things We Leave Behind

 

Today I’m 82 and I just had my house painted. As I was looking it over yesterday, I thought to myself, “Well, I won’t have to do that for another twenty years.” But then a disquieting but also strangely satisfying thought came to my mind: According to Social Security actuary tables, I only have 7.26 years left, and that means I will surely never have to have my house painted again.

Think about that: I’ll never have my house painted until the end of time, when the stars go out one by one and the universe itself finally pffts out of existence.

I suppose I ought to stop and celebrate such an important event in my life, but it’s just darned hard to celebrate a new coat of paint, despite its metaphysical implications.

But that paint job has inspired me. So from now on, I think I’ll note each last thing as I think it will occur.

  • “That’s the last time I’ll drive through Cody, Wyoming.”
  • “That’s the last time I’ll dance the hully-gully.”

Now I am totally inspired, and in fact the only vessel that will contain my inspiration, perhaps much to your disappointment, is poetry in rhymed couplets. But bear with me. I’ve got some good rhymes in here.

  • Before my eyeglass hinge requires another drop of oil,
    I’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil.
  • Before my Black and Decker drill goes bust
    I myself will bite the dust.
  • Bob will continue to chase a darting rabbit
    Long after I’ve kicked the oxygen habit.
  • Before my microwave comes to harm,
    I probably will have bought the farm.
  • And here is what I almost failed to foresee:
    My underwear will go on their merry way without me.
  • And when my days are few, I won’t be ‘round
    To watch my Dole bananas go to brown.

My take on last things segues naturally into my contribution to Ricochet’s official Quote of the Day feature: Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.  (Last night two minutes after midnight, Arahant, who manages the Quote of the Day feature on Ricochet, sent me a message that I’m up today. How’s that for dedication to his job? 3:02 a.m. his time and he’s on the job working for Ricochet.)

Whenever I read Do Not Go Gentle, an odd thought passes through my mind: Dylan Thomas is a pest. In the poem, his father seems to be on his deathbed (outside the poem, his father actually died a year or two later, along with Dylan himself), but his son badgers his father to resist dying. Not only that, but Thomas pressures his father even further by calling his attention to men who did the right thing when they raged against the dying of the light.

What a pest, that Dylan Thomas. I hope my son won’t pester me to struggle against the inevitable when all I want is to sink into the soft pillow of oblivion.

At any rate, here is one of Britain’s greatest 20th-century poems (written by a Welshman).

Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should rage and rave at close of day,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

__________________

Although the poem is clear in its overall theme, it’s obscure. as almost all of Dylan Thomas’s poems are, in some of its details. Look at that awkward spot at the end of the first line of the fifth stanza. Thomas seems to have elided the word “that” because he doesn’t fit the meter, but the construction is so obscure it’s hard to say what he’s after.

Other obscure imagery (“frail deeds have danced in a green bay”?) has been fodder for two generations of English graduate students.

But we must not allow my small-minded carping to mislead us. Do Not Go Gentle belongs up there in the pantheon of great British poems. For me, clarity counts for a lot — but not for everything. And a great poem can overcome a modest lack of precision and clarity. I think Do Not Go Gentle does that.

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  1. Dr. Bastiat Member

    KentForrester: I suppose I ought to stop and celebrate such an important event in my life, but it’s just darned hard to celebrate a new coat of paint, despite its metaphysical implications.

    That is a wonderful sentence.

    • #1
    • August 5, 2020, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    KentForrester: I suppose I ought to stop and celebrate such an important event in my life, but it’s just darned hard to celebrate a new coat of paint, despite its metaphysical implications.

    That is a wonderful sentence.

    Thanks Doc. Any compliment from the King of Likes is to be held to one’s chest and cherished..

    • #2
    • August 5, 2020, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. cdor Member
    cdorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

     

    • #3
    • August 5, 2020, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    • #4
    • August 5, 2020, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Rodin Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    Withdrawn, that tube which inside inspects,
    no more for me, more likely, insects.

    • #5
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Rodin (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    Withdrawn, that tube which inside inspects,
    no more for me, more likely, insects.

    Is that your couplet, Rodin? Craziest and most ungainly couple I’ve ever read.

    • #6
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:23 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Rodin Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    Withdrawn, that tube which inside inspects,
    no more for me, more likely, insects.

    Is that your couplet, Rodin? Craziest and most ungainly couple I’ve ever read.

    I resemble that remark.

    • #7
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:30 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    I’m sure it leaves everyone flushed with excitement.

    • #8
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Oh, Kent, all that work and you’ll probably live to at least 101! Here’s to a long and happy life!

    • #9
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Oh, Kent, all that work and you’ll probably live to at least 101! Here’s to a long and happy life!

    Susan, my Ricochet posts when I’m 101 years old should make for interesting reading. 

    • #10
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. cdor Member
    cdorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rodin (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    Withdrawn, that tube which inside inspects,
    no more for me, more likely, insects.

    Oooo. Yuch!

    • #11
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Gee, I want to say “Happy Birthday”, but . . .

    I know what you mean. Right after I bought my new Camry (back in 2017), I realized it’s the last car I’m going to buy for myself.

    • #12
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Chuck Thatcher

    cdor (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Surely you have a stanza that involves no mo colonoscopies!

    I love me a good colonoscopy, don’t you?

     

    Withdrawn, that tube which inside inspects,
    no more for me, more likely, insects.

    Oooo. Yuch!

    These comments made me think of my sister-in-law Shirley who declined anesthetic for her first colonoscopy because she was curious about the process.

    • #13
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:09 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Chuck Thatcher

    @kentforrester May I somewhat selfishly suggest that you labor to prove those Social Security actuarial tables woefully underestimate expected life spans?

    • #14
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Full Size Tabby Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Gee, I want to say “Happy Birthday”, but . . .

    I know what you mean. Right after I bought my new Camry (back in 2017), I realized it’s the last car I’m going to buy for myself.

    When he was a teenager (and I was about 50), my son kept saying he wanted to help me select my “last car,” since he would probably inherit it. But since then our tastes in cars have diverged, so I no longer think he’ll be interested in my “last car.” 

    • #15
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Susan, my Ricochet posts when I’m 101 years old should make for interesting reading. 

    They already do. 😜

    • #16
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:29 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Arahant Member

    Many happy returns of the day, Kent, and thank you for taking on the Quote of the Day.


    If you have a quotation you would like to insert into a much longer post, or if you just want to give us the quotation, the Quote of the Day is a great way to start a conversation. You don’t have to wait for a birthday or other significant day, either. We provide resources that make finding quotations easy. Why not sign up today?

    • #17
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Hoyacon Member

    So you’re not going to have a house in the hereafter?

    Is the plan to camp on the sidewalk? Hopefully that’s not allowed.

    • #18
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Susan, my Ricochet posts when I’m 101 years old should make for interesting reading.

    They already do. 😜

    Arahant, your satire is so light and benign that it just bounced off my arm and fell harmlessly to the floor.

    • #19
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:17 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    So you’re not going to have a house in the hereafter?

    Is the plan to camp on the sidewalk? Hopefully that’s not allowed.

    Hoyacon, my house in the hereafter will be perched on the edge of a cliff and made of that kind of glass that darkens as the sun comes up. No painting.

    • #20
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Housebroken (View Comment):

    @kentforrester May I somewhat selfishly suggest that you labor to prove those Social Security actuarial tables woefully underestimate expected life spans?

    I don’t know about these things, Housebroken. I plan to leave the scene in 7.26 years. I like to follow the rules. They are rules, aren’t they?

    • #21
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:22 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  22. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Reminds me of a line from an English movie some time ago that sticks in my mind when making purchases these days: A not-so-old man buying a new suit, “That’ll see me off!”

    Oh, and thanks for the extra Bob photo.

    • #22
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:23 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Reminds me of a line from an English movie some time ago that sticks in my mind when making purchases these days: A not-so-old man buying a new suit, “That’ll see me off!”

    Jim, I think you’re the only active member older than I am. Is that right?

    • #23
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:24 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Hoyacon Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    So you’re not going to have a house in the hereafter?

    Is the plan to camp on the sidewalk? Hopefully that’s not allowed.

    Hoyacon, my house in the hereafter will be perched on the edge of a cliff and made of that kind of glass that darkens as the sun goes down. No painting.

    Sounds cool. We’ll need the address.

    • #24
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:24 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Reminds me of a line from an English movie some time ago that sticks in my mind when making purchases these days: A not-so-old man buying a new suit, “That’ll see me off!”

    Jim, I think you’re the only active member older than I am. Is that right?

    I turned 82 last January, so we’re pretty near the same age.

    • #25
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:25 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Jim, I think you’re the only active member older than I am. Is that right?

    @kayofmt is still around. Isn’t she a tad older?

     

    • #26
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Jim, I think you’re the only active member older than I am. Is that right?

    @kayofmt is still around. Isn’t she a tad older?

    She’s somewhere between Jim and me, though I haven’t seen her on Ricochet for some time. 

     

    • #27
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:34 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    She’s somewhere between Jim and me, though I haven’t seen her on Ricochet for some time. 

    She was around an hour ago:

    https://ricochet.com/788961/life-hack-from-my-subconscious/#comment-4873475

    • #28
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    She’s somewhere between Jim and me, though I haven’t seen her on Ricochet for some time.

    She was around an hour ago:

    https://ricochet.com/788961/life-hack-from-my-subconscious/#comment-4873475

    Ah ha, I’ll have to go over and say hi. 

    • #29
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Full Size Tabby Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Housebroken (View Comment):

    @kentforrester May I somewhat selfishly suggest that you labor to prove those Social Security actuarial tables woefully underestimate expected life spans?

    I don’t know about these things, Housebroken. I plan to leave the scene in 7.26 years. I like to follow the rules. They are rules, not suggestions, aren’t they?

    I consider them challenges. My late mother had a bit of a defiant nature. She had longstanding plans to outperform the actuarial tables by a significant amount. Not because she wanted to be difficult, other than to say “Ha! So much for your actuarial tables,” but she said she needed to keep an eye on me (her son) until I was well into senior citizen status myself to make sure I behaved myself. [She did not make it that far; she pretty much followed the actuarial table. But my father never expected to be long-lived, yet he far exceeded the actuarial tables.]

    • #30
    • August 5, 2020, at 9:55 AM PDT
    • 4 likes