Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I:
It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
To be to thee this night a torch-bearer,
And light thee on thy way to Mantua:
Therefore stay yet; thou need'st not to be gone.
Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet III/v
Possibly the most perfect novella I have ever read. Subtle in the charming gaze it lends to the beautiful prosaic existence we emptily experience every single day of our lives. Most books I read are about men searching for something, but this is about a man who is content to watch and to know, in the watching, that he has accomplished as much as anyone can.
Jean Dezert loves his Sundays. He goes for walks, notices the simplicity of the world, allows it to wash over him as a veil of immutable certainty. He chats with his friend Léon. He is bored of life because he already knows what it is. He enjoys the banal days of work, the little things. Then he meets a girl. They have a whirlwind romance. He meets her father who warns him that she is capricious and changes her mind on a whim. Sure enough, she tells him one day that she doesn't like his face and the marriage is off.
Jean Dezert then contemplates how to deal with this apparent heartache. He embraces drink. After this, he concludes that suicide is the best option. He considers hanging, poison, a revolver, but then settles on drowning himself in the Seine.
But as he stands by the bank, watching the people in the cafes, noticing the little boats... "suicide struck him as useless when balanced against his awareness of being an interchangeable part of the crowd and truly unable to completely die."
Yet if his majesty our sovereign lord
Should of his own accord
Friendly himself invite,
And say "I'll be your guest to-morrow night."
How should we stir ourselves, call and command
All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand.
Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
See they be fitted all;
Let there be room to eat,
And order taken that there want no meat.
See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
That without tapers they may give a light.
Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
The dazie o'er the head,
The cushions in the chairs,
And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
Perfume the chambers, and in any case
Let each man give attendance in his place."
Thus if the king were coming would we do,
And 'twere good reason too;
For 'tis a duteous thing
To show all honour to an earthly king,
And after all our travail and our cost,
So he be pleas'd, to think no labour lost.
But at the coming of the King of Heaven
All's set at six and seven:
We wallow in our sin,
Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
We entertain him always like a stranger,
And as at first still lodge him in the manger.
Thomas Ford - 'Yet if his majesty our sovereign lord'