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“Grassed Down and Forgotten”


Cover of Tess of the D’Urbervilles

The past was past; whatever it had been it was no more at hand. Whatever its consequences, time would close over them; they would all in a few years be as if they had never been, and she herself grassed down and forgotten. Meanwhile the trees were just as green as before; the birds sang and the sun shone as clearly now as ever. The familiar surroundings had not darkened because of her grief, nor sickened because of her pain.

She might have seen that what had bowed her head so profoundly—the thought of the world’s concern at her situation—was founded on an illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides Tess was only a passing thought. Even to friends she was no more than a frequently passing thought. If she made herself miserable the livelong night and day it was only this much to them—’Ah, she makes herself unhappy.’ If she tried to be cheerful, to dismiss all care, to take pleasure in the daylight, the flowers, the baby, she could only be this idea to them—’Ah, she bears it very well.’ Moreover, alone in a desert island would she have been wretched at what had happened to her? Not greatly. If she could have been but just created, to discover herself as a spouseless mother, with no experience of life except as the parent of a nameless child, would the position have caused her to despair? No, she would have taken it calmly, and found pleasure therein. Most of the misery had been generated by her conventional aspect, and not by her innate sensations.—Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

4 thoughts on ““Grassed Down and Forgotten”

  1. I think we all come to this conclusion at some point. I did to a certain extent when I first left home with no friends or money except what I had earned in the packing sheds; however I was young and built a life for myself. Then, when I divorced in my early 50s, I had to start all over again, and was not so young or resilient. Suicide seemed like the lazy way out, but when I calculated the various manners of demise, they all seemed unreliable and uncomfortable, and of course, final, and when I calculated the number of people who would notice me missing, I didn’t need all my fingers and toes to do that. Really, I decided that my dog needed me, and my children, but mostly my dog. Nature and animals are honest and always a comfort when we turn to them. “The trees (are) just as green as before…”

  2. Dorothy Parker had my favorite commentary on suicide:

    Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.

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