The Tomb

The Tomb

By Thomas Stanley (1625–1678)

WHEN, cruel fair one, I am slain
By thy disdain,
And as a trophy of thy scorn
To some old tomb am borne,
Thy fetters must their power bequeath
To those of Death;
Nor can thy flame immortal burn
Like monumental fires within an urn.
Thus freed from thy proud empire, I shall prove
There is more liberty in Death than Love.

And when forsaken lovers come
To see my tomb,
Take heed thou mix not with the crowd
And as a victor, proud
To view the spoils thy beauty made,
Press near my shade!
Lest thy too cruel breath, or name,
Should fan my ashes back into a flame,
And thou, devour’d by this revengeful fire.
His sacrifice, who died as thine, expire.

Or should my dust thy pity move
That could not, love,
Thy sighs might wake me, and thy tears
Renew my life and years;
Or should thy proud insulting scorn
Laugh at my urn,
Kindly deceiv’d by thy disdain,
I might be smil’d into new life again.
Then come not near: since both thy love and hate
Have equal power to kill or animate.

But if cold earth or marble must
Conceal my dust,
Whilst, hid in some dark ruins, I
Dumb and forgotten lie,
The pride of all thy victory
Will sleep with me;
And they who should attest thy glory
Will or forget, or not believe this story.
Then, to increase thy triumph, let me rest,
(Since by thine eye slain,) buried in thy breast!

The line “liberty in death” was just vaguely mentioned in episode 2 of Season 2 of Sherlock, the BBC series. I decided to look it up and it seems many Sherlock fans took great interest in that particular phrase as well. It originates from this poem I presume.

“There is more Liberty in Death than Love.” This line particularly strongly resounds with my ideas about Port from The Sheltering Sky. I almost wish I had heard this line whilst I was reading the novel. I think it captures his unspoken life mantra. The only true freedom is death.

While I entirely and completely disagree with Port’s mentality it is an interesting juxtaposition to my own present-day ruminations on life, meaning, and existential quandaries. I’ve been very confused as of late because for the first time I am exploring meaning in my life. I think up until recently that sort of thing didn’t exactly matter… just living was enough. In a way it still is enough, but the WAY in which I live seems to matter now.

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