For Love of Paint Fumes and Poetry

12,210 Days Alive

10 Years Ago

1 Favored Poem

I fell in love with the words of John Donne long before I ever giggled myself stupid, high on paint fumes, because of still-wet scenery and a crotchety groundskeeper that wouldn’t let us have the doors open on the black box theater.

This would have been in the spring of 2009. Somehow, as I write this, that is a decade ago.

I was a tech, a simple stagehand and nothing more. But Gods was I home when I was in those painted walls. I wasn’t an actor. No, my place has near always been in the wings, unseen. In all black and sensible shoes.

But one rainy afternoon, alone but for a pair of friends, I stood with actual purpose on that stage and recited Donnie’s Holy Sonnet 10, one of my personal favorites:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

While we were pondering the geese that seemed capable of dropping planes into the Hudson, I was having yet another bought of memento mori maudlin-minded nonsense.

It is still a lovely poem.

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