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The Last Man -- Thomas Lovell Beddoes

We seem to have stumbled our way into a new theme: the supernatural and the
macabre. Herewith, a guest poem submitted by Ira Cooper- an excerpt from:
(Poem #595) The Last Man
 By heaven and hell, and all the fools between them,
 I will not die, nor sleep, nor wink my eyes,
 But think myself into a god; old Death
 Shall dream he has slain me, and I'll creep behind him,
 Thrust off the bony tyrant from his throne
 And beat him into dust. Or I will burst
 Damnation's iron egg, my tomb, and come
 Half damned, ere they make lightning of my soul,
 And creep into thy carcase as thou sleepest
 Between two crimson fevers. I'll dethrone
 The empty skeleton, and be thy death,
 A death of grinding madness. -- Fear me now;
 I am a devil, not a human soul --
-- Thomas Lovell Beddoes
Thomas Lovell Beddoes, who wrote the above, wrote in the style of the
Elizabethan Revival of the Late Romantic Period.  I would call his style
macabre.  Born in 1803, he was the son of a famous physician.  He would have
been familiar with the anatomy table.  He was an acquaintence of Mary
Shelley.  Part of his final words:  "Food for what I am good for - worms."
If people are familiar with him at all, it might be because of one of his
more famous pieces, "Old Adam the Carrion Crow."

Ira Cooper.


        b. June 30, 1803, Clifton, Somerset, Eng.
        d. Jan. 26, 1849, Basel, Switz.

The son of a distinguished scientist, Beddoes seems early to have acquired,
from his father's dissections and speculations on anatomy and the soul, an
obsession with death that was to dominate his life and work. He was educated
at Charterhouse, where his passion for the drama became evident and where he
nourished his imagination on 18th-century Gothic romances. In 1820 he went
to Oxford University, where he wrote his first considerable work, The
Bride's Tragedy (1822), based on the story of a murder committed by an
undergraduate. In 1825 he went to Göttingen, Ger., to study anatomy and
medicine. There he continued work on Death's Jest-Book. Friends who read the
first version advised revision, and Beddoes' acceptance of their advice
hindered his poetic development: for the rest of his life he was unable to
escape from the work or to complete it, and it was eventually published
posthumously in 1850.

In Death's Jest-Book itself, which Beddoes described as an example of "the
florid Gothic," he aimed to use Gothic material to discuss the problems of
mortality and immortality.

After trouble with the university authorities, Beddoes left Göttingen, moved
to Würzburg (where he received his M.D.), and there involved himself in
radical politics. More trouble caused him to leave Germany for Zürich, where
his interest in writing English verse waned. In 1840 he had to flee from
Switzerland, probably for political reasons, and he never afterward settled
in one place for very long. He visited England for the last time in 1846-47.
Two years later he committed suicide.

        -- EB

23 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

oldbadger said...

Have you seen the Wesleyan UP translation [2002] of Cousin de Grainville's LE DERNIER HOMME?That started the LM vogue in the UK

Best wishes


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