“There is no way to know for certain the place and time where death lies waiting for us, so let us wait for death at every moment along the way… We ought to prepare for death even before we plan out our lives.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, Letter 70
The video above is a reading of a letter from Seneca to Lucilius on ending one’s own life. Probably one of the most eloquent writings on the subject. The primary objective is to prepare his friend to make peace with his own end should circumstances call for it. Seneca has a way of making light of the matter by drawing upon colourful anecdotes and recalling tenets that belong to his school of philosophy. The poetry below stems from my reading of his work but the soil used in my flowerpot has 2000 years of additional aging.
DEATH AWAITS US ALL
By Jason Youngman
Spring of 2022
When a man sees death approaching from afar does he not make preparations ahead of time or does he flee from it on foot in hopes of evading the inevitable? We the many opt for the latter and call our cowardice by moonlit name. We fight off our existential angst with greater attempts at living the so called good life. Barricading ourselves off in castles of self-esteem, shouting out liberty from the rooftops, as though the universe itself demanded it.
Yet death on its leather steed calls out all the more, its cry piercing as a soldier’s javelin. Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. A long silence nearly overtakes your whimsy but the fool can’t help himself from blurting out: What madness! How dare you use the words of our Lord & Savior to mask your lunacy!
Death descends his horse with speed so as to shift the ground below. A still pond reveals your reflection. Morbidity reaching back for youth. Another chance for easy breath. Oh what you are willing to kill in order to preserve the illusion. Blood for blood, never satiated, this timeless bubble. What fiction now can possibly remove our blindfold while truth sits in our stomach as undigested moles.
Like a vagarious wind of the Eight of Wands passing over your head my poetry does little to awaken your inner song as long as you run headlong but sip from the cup of Neptune if you wish to read my lips. Oh yee of little faith, would it not been better if you were never born. What do you know of that Nothingness that came before your little pocket of consciousness that you hold so dearly and what of that which awaits us in eternity?
Now in this crimson eve the allure of woman’s beauty pales under the moonlight of Persephone. Blessed be the goddess of the underworld who breaks these chains of lust; the sperm upon the belly of a whore that turns to crust. So the tree of life has been shook but only the green remains. Neither lush or ready for picking, seeds that contain its story, never to see the soil underneath the branch, awaits the grubby hands of man; tales with long tails that reach back for me and you.
This post reminded me of this;
“There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra”