Monday, June 1, 2015

Cold Obstruction

Although I love precision in prose and verse, and although I try to use the most down-to-earth, specific terms I can find, I have to respect the punch and quiver of a haunting abstract noun.

This is one of my favourite examples, from a play that is not one of my favourites. When I think of Measure for Measure, I always hear one harsh word: obstruction.

Death is a fearful thing.

And shamèd life a hateful.

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where,
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot,
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbèd ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world, or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling: 'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathèd worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

[Act 3, Scene 1]

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