Dylan Thomas told us, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” As old age slips his hoary fingers through my graying hair and holds my hand in his, I sometimes think of Thomas’ words.
However, many years before Thomas’ time on earth, another character expressed somewhat the same concept to death’s approach. As Gilgamesh’s BFF Enkidu is facing his imminent demise, he curses the gods with this pithy series of suggestions:
“May wild dogs camp in your bedroom,” Enkidu rants. “May owls nest in your attic, may drunkards vomit all over you, may a tavern wall be your place of business, may you be dressed in torn robes and filthy underwear, may angry wives sue you, may thorns and briars make your feet bloody, may young men jeer and the rabble mock you as you walk the streets…”
For those unfamiliar with Enkidu and Gilgamish, they’re characters in an epic narrative written sometime about 2200-2500 BCE, or slightly more than four millennium in the past. That’s about a thousand years before the Trojans and the Greeks hacked and whacked each other in Homer’s Illiad.
Well said, Enkidu. (From Stephen Mitchell’s translation, A New English Version: Gilgamesh)