“A great man in his pride . . .
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone
Man has created death.”
~William Butler Yeats
“Goodnight Moon . . . Goodnight Air. Goodnight noises everywhere”
~Margaret Wise Brown
There’s only one time in your life that you say goodbye to everything you’ve come to know and love . . . and even dedicate a little time saying goodbye to the things you’ve come to hate: the shitty bowl of mush your “old lady” tries to pass off as food growing cold on the nightstand, the filthy rodent that’ll probably leave droppings in said mush as you rest comfortably ETERNALLY. Because when you’re about to kick off, even the fecal matter your little brother leaves on the toilet after he forgets to wipe his butt is endearing, and the tasteless, formless garbage your nation has sold to you as “food” reminds you that’s it’s better to have the faculties to hate and loathe than to have nothing at all.
Most poets paint death with a palette of the morose and depressing. There’s nothing good about dying. There’s no room for cliché rhymes and red balloons in the classic written rendering of death, until Margaret Wise Brown comes into the picture. In 1947, Brown threw all the conventions established by previous poets writing about death, bidding folks like Yeats and Donne to say “goodnight air” as she peppered her death poetry with balloons, bears, and cows jumping over the moon.
Her work reminds us that death does not have to be a subject of woe. Death is best reminisced with a cocktail of kittens and mittens, chairs and bears. The proverbial spoonful of sugar Brown gives to us with her stylistic rendering helps the medicine go down, as it were, continuing the discourse established by her predecessors and taking it in a direction desperately needed by people today. This is not just a book about a stubborn rabbit with OCD who will not go to bed until he lists everything in his room. This is a story about the human condition, and a celebration of our greatest collective vulnerability. Read. This. Shit.