Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Essay: "New Year's Eve." Charles Lamb.

Review: While many people look forward to the new year as a means of escaping the past, the author savors the past. He would stay in the present if he could, for in the future, we are headed toward death.

“I have heard some profess an indifference to life. Such hail the end of their existence as a port of refuge; and speak of the grave as some soft arms in which they may slumber as on a pillow.”

“Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holidays and the greenness of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes, and society and the cheerful glass, and candle-light, and fireside conversations, and innocent vanities and jests and irony itself—do these thing go out with life?”

“Some have wooed death—but out upon thee, I say, thou foul, ugly phantom! I detest, abhor, execrate…as in no instance to be excused or tolerated, but shunned as a universal viper; to be branded, proscribed, and spoken evil of! In no way can I be brought to digest thee, thou thin, melancholy privation, or more frightful and confounding positive.”

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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