Friday, 3 May 2013

In the midst of life...

'In the midst of life we are in death,' says Cranmers's Anglican funeral liturgy and those burial rites deriving from it ; some days, it seems to us, more than others ...

I've always considered the following piece, from a novel of Alice Thomas Ellis, to be more than a little melodramatic; now I'm not sure: I think this is what Cranmer's hauntingly literal  translation really expresses... 'Media vita in morte sumusQuem quærimus adjutorem nisi te, Domine? Qui pro peccatis nostris juste irasceris.'
"...They think that death is waiting at the end of the ride, that life is like the lane and that death waits at the end. Listen. That is death on the other side of the side of the hedgerow. And that swift shadow that is gone, before you turn, from the corner of your eye – that is death. And the whisper you scarcely hear through the sounds of the birds calling and the wind in the leaves – that is death. Not waiting, but there beside you within reach, within earshot, so close that if you should look you would see your breath cloud on his presence. There he is, just out of sight behind the wild rose and the blackthorn, not behind you, nor before you, but beside you…"
from Unexplained Laughter


  1. When we are young, we think we are all but immortal and that death is something that is a long way off; when we enter into our middle-years and know how fragile human life truly is, words such as those penned by Ellis ring true: death is always near. Which makes life an even more precious gift.

  2. Mr Harris is turning in his grave (or preparing a nasty surprise for you if he's still with us...)

    1. I know: I feel him haunting me already...(dead or alive...)


Anonymous comments will not be published