“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee/…

…Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;“: opening lines of one of the 19 “Holy Sonnets” (1633), by John Donne.

From The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“…and one of the youngsters had dreamed he went to the manor and killed their lord and master with a pitchfork; and the others were so tense, worn out and agitated that they all listened attentively as he recounted his dream, speculating unconsciously whether he might in fact be up to doing the deed. And this was how people felt and spoke in the entire district, where only weeks before the Chamberlain had been held in such affection and compassion. But despite the talk, nothing changed. Christoph Detlev’s death was installed at Ulsgaard and would not be hurried. It had come for a ten-week stay, and stay it did; and for the duration of that time it was more completely the lord and master than Christoph Detveld had ever been, like a king known for ever to history as ‘the Terrible’.

It was not the death of some wretch dying of a dropsy; it was the evil, regal death the Chamberlain had borne with him his whole life long, nurturing it from within himself. All those vast resources of pride and will and mastery that he had been unable to use up himself in his calmer days had passed over now into his death, into that death which now presided at Ulsgaard, throwing it all away.

Chamberlain Brigge would have given short shrift to anyone who had suggested he die some other death rather than this one. He died his terrible death.”

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