Thursday, August 2, 2012

Death. The Inevitable Appointment.


There's a poem, perhaps by Browning, in which the inhabitant of a certain town spots Death in a crowd, gazing at him with a look of surprise on his face.  He is stricken with terror and leaves his town in a panic to hide from Death in a neighboring town.  Three days later, in this new town he again sees Death but this time Death comes up to him and touches him on the shoulder and speaks to him:  "Three days ago I saw you in your hometown.  The look you saw on my face was a look of surprise, because my appointment with you was here, three days later."


In the earlier days of dueling, before the specific code duello was created with specific norms to follow, it was common to agree on all sorts of unusual conditions.  In one bizarre incident, an Englishman abroad was challenged to a duel by a wealthy resident of the particular area in which the Englishman was travelling.  Unable to avoid a duel, the Englishman agreed to a meeting with pistols in the challenger's baronial hall - but he specified that it be held in complete darkness.

He was determined not to hurt his opponent, so the Englishman waited till the challenger fired first, and then, slowly and carefully, he felt his way around the wall until he found the large fireplace that he had noted before the darkness.  Then he carefully discharged his pistol up the chimney.  To his horror the body of his overly cautious opponent dropped down to the hearth with a sickening thud.

From The Treasury of the Gun, by Harold l. Peterson


More popthems needed to illustrate further this unavoidable encounter with Death.

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