Thursday, March 19, 2009

The next room

I have been thinking about people who have died.

I had a memory, teenaged, of hearing Sir Laurence Olivier read this poem to his wife, Joan Plowright, in a documentary about his life. He was very old. I remembered only fragments, and thanks to those words and to Google, I found it.

From a sermon delivered at St Paul’s Cathedral in May 1910 following the death of King Edward VII:

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Henry Scott Holland, 1847-1918


  1. I like it. Especially the last sentence. :-)

  2. this brings tears to my eyes.

  3. What beautiful words. I'd love to believe them. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  4. Beence, M heart and Your Highness - yes...I think it brings tears to mine every time I readit because I would also like it to be true. And I would like people who have lost those they have loved to feel that it is true.

  5. This is timely.

    My cousin's husband just died. Unexpected, one day in the hospital, he was 35. They have two toddlers. They've been together since they were 19 years old.

    He had acute leukemia, but had no idea. They live in Florida, he had lost his job 2 years ago and was a stay at home dad. He had no health insurance.

    I hope this is how my cousin is feeling.

  6. Bad story, Frank. Your poor cousin. Yeah, suicide, two, gunshot, one, anniversary coming up of another suicide...

    No way to know, is there? Just keep planting.


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