Fear No More

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrants stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor th’ all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan.
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act IV, Scene II

This is one of the most beautiful commemorations of loss I know, though I can’t help but remember the awful BBC adaptation of Cymbeline when I think of it, fake beards and all. I loved it in Cymbeline, I loved it in Mrs Dalloway and The Boggart, and I love it when I see it on the Tube (Transport for London used it as one of their Poems on the Underground). It feels oddly appropriate for today, Remembrance Day. I can think of nothing better for the young men who fell in the world wars than quiet consummation, and rest from the hellish situation in which they found themselves.

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