Time, love, and the body: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,/ Drives my green age”
Title: Opening lines of Dylan Thomas’s 1933 poem “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower”
Featured image: This shot of a Glistening-Green Tanager (Chlorochrysa phoenicotis) poised between two leaves on Ecuador’s Mashpi Amagusa Reserve, taken by Nicolas Reusens, was named Best Portrait at the 2023 Bird Photographer of the Year awards.
There’s nothing like a septuagenarian birthday to steer one’s thoughts toward the fact that the years left to affirm the joy and privilege of living on this Earth are running out. On September 26th last week, I turned 74. Peter and I had a wonderful day together: he made me breakfast, gave me the gift of a letter he had written to me (our customary birthday and Christmas gifts to each other). We agreed many years ago not to give each other material gifts for our birthdays or other customary gifting days. His nth exquisite letter during our 55 years together included a photo montage depicting different stages of my and his life.
This year Peter cheated a little bit on the no-material-gifts front—on top of the letter, he surprised me with some outré earrings, which he said “cost the same as two cups of Starbucks coffee.”And with which I immediately fell in love. We spent the day having my hearing aid fixed, eating at a restaurant we’ve long loved, going home for a nap (both) and an early night (me). After the actual day, my family and friends kept putting on various birthday celebrations, including a dinner Sunday with all 10 of the Salt Lake City Saunderses at Newton and Cheryl’s house. How lucky I am to have so many people who have seen me in my (not very high) ups and (not-pretty) downs and still love me. Particularly since I became aware of my dementia, I have experienced French homme de lettres Jules Renard’s time-and-body-based simile, “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.”
About two years after her grandmother-with-dementia’s death in 2018, American artist and writer Amy Parrish looks through family portraits from her grandmother’s collection, observing gestures and thinking about how memory works. Applying her perceptions to some of the images from, she uses gouache, an opaque watercolor paint, and wax pencil to alter the figures, hiding faces, body parts and other details—at times inviting the viewer to focus on a specific gesture, at others to wonder at what is lost in the picture. In a photograph of her grandmother and grandfather together, she obscures much of the image with soft marks, except where two arms are gently intertwined. In the caption, Parrish writes, “Here, perhaps forgetting specific details of a particular day, I wonder if Grandma was able to recall the tender way he caressed her arm.”
Given that it’s been a dozen years since (with the help of my family) I started my self-death plan—at a time TBD while I am still able to do all the steps on my own so that my family will not be legally liable—actually being dead never worries me. I take comfort in the fact that my constituent material parts will be returned to Earth from where they came: a streak of gravely ashes greying the green growth next to my favorite creek, a dusty waft of me-dust floating on the wind above them. Or maybe someone would want a cup or two of my ground-up remnants to bury in a cozy pocket of backyard soil from where I hope they will “fructify all with t[heir] last chemistry” (Walt Whitman, “Ashes of Soldiers,” Leaves of Grass). That is, until—within the few million years or so, or much sooner, all fructification on our planet comes to a halt. Scientist actually believe that Earth’s 6th mass extinction (which may scientists believe we are in the middle of) is the slow-motion catastrophe that will wipe out us humans together with an expected 75% of the world’s other species. The higher you are on the evolutionary ladder, the more likely you are to perish.
Placenticeras, an ammonite that lived and became extinct during Earth’s 5th mass extinction (the Cretaceous mass extinction event) that marked the end of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This was most likely caused by an asteroid hitting the Earth in what is now Mexico, potentially compounded by ongoing flood volcanism in what is now India. It killed 78% of all of Earth’s species. The beauty of this fossil almost persuades me to have my whole body buried so that the equivalent of Shakespeare’s “pearls that were her eyes” might be the end result of my physical being.That’s not to say that some form of sentient life might not evolve after us. Their common ancestors might be today’s dolphins, ravens, pigs, or whichever of our smartest co-vertebrates you prefer. What’s to say sentient life may not again evolve from species “lower down” the evolutionary tree?
A day or two before my birthday, I came upon 1), the image of the Glistening-Green Tanager featured at the start of this post. After my birthday, I was looking for more information on the outré tropical bird, which reminded me of the gamut of blues, greens, reds, golds, and/or iridescent shimmers of the birds on our farm in South Africa. Such is the Artificial Intelligence of search engines that my results somehow included 2), a poem by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953): “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” I felt some things coming together for what would be this post. Technically, one could say that I had started this post almost immediately after publishing the previous one, which I did out of beholden-ness rather than inspiration. However, since I was just beginning to come out of an endless stretch of a deep dementia depression and apathy, all my “new post” prep amounted only to a haphazard gathering of images and ideas that excited me, after excitement had not been part of my life for so long. Over a month of almost aimlessly googling, my magpie-constructed document—I called it “Broken and Fixed”—had grown to a 100-page plus bucket of disconnected thoughts, images, and research information. After my birthday, I was listening to a series of audio lectures on existentialism: and there it was, 3), Heidegger’s posit that freedom consists in the affirmation that one will necessarily die. The acceptance of one’s mortal limitation is the basis for an affirmation of one’s life. Parts of my brain that hadn’t seen sunshine for what seemed like years lit up with pleasure s. I had my holy trinity. What was broken could now be fixed.
“Poetically translated to “golden joinery,” kintsugi, is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with a camouflaged adhesive, the kintsugi technique employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece.”
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
It seems unusual that nineteen-year-old Thomas’s poem is permeated with the theme of death.To judge by today’s population group—to which Thomas belonged a century earlier, namely sixteen- to twenty-four-year-olds—a population group that today pays the highest car insurance premiums based on accident rates, the notion of their invulnerability must rarely cross the minds of nineteen-year-olds. Given that this human characteristic has likely not changed fundamentally during the last 100 years, Thomas, too, should insouciantly waved off his mortality. On the contrary. From its opening lines one might infer that his poem celebrates the vivacity and joy of all living things as well as their inextricable connection: “The [same force] the …force, Thomas asserts, “that through the green fuse drives the flower/
Drives my green age.” This seems to be a good thing: the same beneficent power that propels sap through the stems of plants also drives the poet’s youthful ebullience, or “green age.” The scene in Christine Cariati’s painting below celebrates the abundance that flows when nature’s force drives sprouts, roots, or leaves to stimulate the growth of trees and other plants:
Tangled Bank: Monkey, 2015 is the fifth of Christine Cariati’s ongoing series, Tangled Bank, inspired by the work of Charles Darwin, specifically the last paragraph of On the Origin of Species (1860 edition). The fact that her painting is subtitled Monkey—the animal “highest” up the evolutionary ladder of the entities depicted—illustrates that the animal world is dependent on creatures below it on the ladder, all inseparable from the vegetable world, which in turn is embedded in the mineral world, here represented by the “damp earth” of the “tangled [river]bank.” This painting, in fact, is a tribute to the final paragraph of Origin. While Darwin is never mentioned as an influence for the “green fuse” poem, in its opening Dylan Thomas, too, seems to “exalt” the “grandeur” in a way similar to Darwin’s in his “tangled” bank:
“a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us… Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” While Darwin does not shrink from naming the harsh parts of “the war of nature, famine and death,” the overall tone of the paragraph comes across as decidedly upbeat.
The force’s constructive power is as advantageous to the human body as it is to plants in nature. In the painting below, one could say that the dancer, like the poet, is in his “green age.”
In American painter and photographer Barkley L. Hendricks‘s Woody, 1973, (above), the “Woody” character projects physical and mental strength, that is, a driving force or potency often associated with young manhood. “Set on yellow canvas, a dancer in a yellow unitard romper stands on one foot with the other raised and arms spread out. There is no light falling on his face, and his eyes, darkened entirely, project a strange, irrepressible sense of balance and power.”
However the initial positivity of the poem is not all that it seems to be. The poet has already snuck in a destructive note in the last segment of the second line: the verb “blasts” can go both ways: The destructive connotation of “blast” signals danger: in nature, the “blast” of a tree can break rocks. In an urban environment, it can act like the slow-motion equivalent of a building being imploded: a tree in your yard (or a neighbor’s!) can crack your driveway or house foundations or garden wall or invade your plumbing. Given that this same force applies to the poet’s body, we can infer that the (positive) irrepressibility of the poet or other young people could tilt into (negative) impetuosity. To reflect this danger, I change the word “blasts” to the “stop-if-possible” orange of a traffic light:
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
“Blasts” is a cross-eyed word that winks toward both beneficence and maleficence. In nature, tree roots can break rocks; in an urban environment, they can crack your driveway or house foundations or invade your plumbing. “Blasts” now takes on the color of a warning traffic light.
Vincent van Gogh’s last painting, Tree Roots, has an unusually precise date of creation: July 27, 1890. Art historian Wouter van der Veen, who researched the story of Tree Roots, believes that, on the morning of Sunday, July 27, 1890, van Gogh as usual left his room at the inn in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where he had lived for the preceding 68 days. He carried with him a canvas and the painting gear he would need to stay out all day. Just 500 feet from the inn, he selected a scene of “tangled, gnarled tree roots and stumps for his day’s work. The “scene can still be seen in the slope of a hill there today….That night, he [would return] to the inn with a fatal gunshot wound.” He would die two days later, on July 29, 1890, aged 39.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
That same force that appeared to be so beneficent at the start now “Is my destroyer.” The stanza continues with a truth so obnoxious that Thomas, already the master wordsmith who would be dubbed “a great Welsh poet of his century,” can find no language for the abjection it evokes. “And I am dumb ” to tell the still guileless “crooked rose” that she is both blemished and a bad omen: her damaged presence is enough to stun us humans into the understanding that our bodies, too, will be “bent by the same wintry fever” as her now frost-shrunken petals. Before the poem’s end, Thomas repeats “And I am dumb” 4 more times, all the while demonstrating to us, his readers, that he will not spare our innocence: unlike the rose, we must know and accept—as we have to when viewing, for example, the painter Frances Bacon’s series of self-portraits that foretell his own frailty and death—”the brutality of fact.” (Bacon’s lifetime, 1909-1992, overlaps that of Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953.)
As the poem continues, grimmer and grimmer images of the initially beneficial-appearing force administer “the brutality of fact”: though in nature the force “drives water through the rocks,” (think majestic waterfall), in the poet’s body it turns his “red blood…to wax.” Next, he fast-walks us to a time after his death: his body has become “clay,” a mineral substance known for being inhospitable to plants or other life forms. Tipping the scale of psychological darkness even more sharply downward, “his” “clay” will be strewn by a “hangman” over the corpses of dead criminals so that they may more quickly decompose. As the poem lurches to its end, the force exits the material world of animal/mineral/vegetable and transforms into 2 abstract entities. The first is Time: for example, “the weather’s wind,” still blows—well—”as free as the wind”—not knowing (and the poet still chooses to remain “dumb”) that “time has ticked a heaven round the stars.” In other words, to channel Rilke, “there is neither a here nor a beyond, but only the great unity.”And thus for Thomas, by including “the stars” and “the weather’s wind” in the same “heaven ,” bad boy Time has obliterated the difference between the “here” of Earth and the “beyond” of the stars. The universe is in flux. Nothing stays the same, not even Time. In its second abstraction, the force is morphing from Time to Love. As is no longer a surprise with Thomas, Love at first seems to affect human lives positively: biologically it engenders birth; mentally/spiritually it initiates and reinforces human relationships through acts of caring in life and mourning after death. Time, however, corrupts Love in the long run. “The lips of time leech to the fountainhead,” “ Love drips and gather,” so that formerly besotted humans turn on each other. Love turns to Loathing.
Frida Kahlo, The Two Fridas, painted in the year of her divorce (1939). Diego Rivera’s multiple infidelities (including with her younger sister, Christin), had triggered shame, anger, and desire for revenge. She responded with her own infidelities. The Frida on the right side of the painting wears in the traditional attire, a blue blouse with orange stripes and golden skirt. The “modern” Frida on the left wears a European-style wedding dress. The Frida in the traditional dress is what Diego desired, the Frida in the European style dress goes against his expectation that women should be subordinate and stick to being a wife. The indigenous Frida has a healthy-looking heart. From it, an artery links to the Diego figurine she holds in her left hand. The heart on the wedding dress side is exposed. Another artery connects to the Frida on the left, goes down along her right arm. It is cut off with a surgical pincer. Blood, like her broken Love, “drips and gathers,” staining the white dress.
So, per nine-teen-year-old Thomas, under the assault of Time, Love turns to Loathing. But what did Thomas, technically a teenager, know about love?
Press photo of Dylan Thomas, then 17 (1931), by an unknown photographer.
While Thomas was an indifferent student all through his school years, he was self-motivated, brilliant, and an avid reader. The only thing he liked about school was the drama and the roles in which he enthusiastically acted. His real education, though, took place at home. His father had a first-class honors degree in English and taught at the local literature at the local grammar (high) school. He had a well-appointed library and encouraged Thomas to read anything and read everything. From the age of 15, young Thomas started reviewing plays by the Swansea Little Theatre for the South Wales Evening Post. In 1931, aged 16, he dropped out of high school, continued as a reporter for the newspaper, and became a member of the Swansea troupe. In 1932, when 17, he played the son, Simon, of the wealthy, dysfunctional Bliss family in Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, in which the parents, Simon, and his sister indulge in an apparently customary “callous game of sexual one-upmanship using their hapless houseguests as disposable pawns.” Simon’s ill-matched love interest, is an older, notorious “man-eating vamp, Myra.” In real life, too, Thomas did not remain uninducted in “adult” love by the time he wrote “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower” in 1933.
Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson…
Dylan Thomas was not yet 19 when he experienced his first “adult” experience of “love”—that we know of—which involved “a lank, red-mouthed girl with a reputation like hell.” He was not 19 yet when he confessed this carrying-on in a letter to the first woman with whom he actually” seriously” fell in love, Pamela Hansford Jones. She wrote him a letter of congratulations on becoming the second winner of the Sunday Referee newspaper’s Poet’s Corner prize that she had won the previous time. Five months of correspondence resulted in a tumultuous love affair during which he regularly expressed “his fervent love of her ‘round body.’” Early the next year—he was now 19—he asked Pamela to marry him but drinking led to the end of their relationship. Just in time for him to meet the woman to whom he would (in his first known letter to her) write “I love you more than anybody in the world.” And mean it. Sometimes.
My Sullen Art: Self Portrait as Dylan Thomas, 2011, Cherry Pickles. Pickles is most famous for her role-playing self-portraits, in which she pokes fun at the inflated status bestowed upon the male artist. Her self-portrait-as-Dylan-Thomas is loosely based on the kind of hedonistic lifestyle Dylan Thomas and his friends pursued—a lifestyle that made Thomas a role model for the beat generation of poets in America. Although Thomas was known for his hedonism, his apparent happiness and self-confidence are negated by the out-of-control highs and tormented downs of his later life.
Caitlin Macnamara (24) and Dylan Thomas (19).
Shortly after Pamela Johnson broke up with him, according to History collection, Thomas—who was “undoubtedly [already] inebriated”—was smitten by the blond-haired, blue-eyed 24-year-old beauty Caitlin Macnamara who was a dancer in the Wheatsheaf pub in London that he frequented at the time. Despite never having spoken to her before, he went over, put his head in her lap and proposed.” They were married in 1937, after two “false starts” when they’d saved the £3 special license fee and then spent it at local pubs; Thomas borrowed the fee from his father-in-law-to-be, who was against the marriage. Even though Thomas looks impossibly young in the photo, I cannot fault his choosing of a mate-for-life at the age of 19. Peter was 19 when he met me, then 17—I was never in doubt that we would be life partners, and neither was he (he says now, after taking almost a year to declare his love!); Peter’s brother Cliff met his wife Ria when she was in elementary school and he in high school; Peter’s parents were eighteen when their lifelong mutual love was kindled; our son Newton and his wife Cheryl were 19 and 18 when they discovered each other as soul mates. But what did Thomas, then still technically a teenager, know about love?
The Garden Enclosed, David Jones, 1924. Jones made this painting to mark his engagement to Petra Gill in 1924, when he was 28 and she was 17. At the time Jones was living in an artist community led by Petra Gill’s father, sculptor and typographic designer Eric Gill. The painting seems to convey an atmosphere of anxiety and tension: The couple is depicted in a kind of embrace, “but Petra appears to be pushing David away. Her hand on David’s chest suggests resistance. On the ground lies a discarded doll (made for her by her father when she was 4).” Both Petra and David seem stiff and uncomfortable. Given aspects of Petra’s childhood that had not been publicly known until 1989, may go some way to explain her extreme reluctance: documents from a museum archive revealed that Gill had sexually abused her and her older sister. For example, on the back of an envelope “Gill had listed, in two columns, the measurements of various parts of the bodies of his daughters. Adjacent to those are his own measurements and then, at the bottom, he writes his penis size, erect and flaccid.” It is not known if Jones was aware of this. Petra broke off the engagement in two years after Jones’s painting.
Although they would remain married until Thomas’s death at age 39—same age as Vincent van Gogh’s—his and Caitlin’s relationship would be dysfunctional, their discordance fueled by alcohol, a constant lack of money, and a surplus of mutual infidelity. And yet there was a steel thread of adoration that, for Thomas at least, lasted until the end. So much has been rumored and written about Dylan and Caitlin’s marriage that Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney opened a lecture on the poet by telling the assembly, “Dylan Thomas is now as much a case history as a chapter in the history of poetry.” Amen. About the rest, I will remain dumb. As for the poetry, Adam Kirsch reminds us in the New Yorker, that “by the age of nineteen, Thomas had already written many of his major poems: ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion,’ ‘Before I Knocked,’ ‘The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower.’” Not to forget the one about “what Thomas was up to in his ‘bedroom by the broiler,’” published in The Listener in March 1933, probably while he was still involved “red-mouthed girl with a reputation like hell.” So raunchy was “Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines” that its publication brought angry letters from The Listener’s subscribers.
A marital tiff in a place where the sun supposedly shines all the time? I could not find the classical artist of the painting of Adam mansplaining to Eve that the Fall is all her fault. If you know the artists name and and/or the title of the painting please enlighten me.
About Caitlin and Thomas, I am dumb, still. But I’m not forgetting the poetry. And let’s not forget his love letters to her, the 30 or so letters and cards that are extant. The documents date from his first letter from Swansea (May 1937) while the lovers were reluctantly separated—Thomas had to return home and Caitlin was subsequently admitted to hospital in London to recover from an illness—and his last from NYC (April 1953), when they were separated by more than distance while he did a third grueling reading tour in April 1953, 6 months before he would die. In the first letter he wrote,
“I love you more than anybody in the world…. I love you for millions and millions of things, clocks and vampires and dirty nails and squiggly paintings and lovely hair and being dizzy and falling dreams…. “I don’t want you for a day (though I’d sell my toes to see you now my dear, only for a minute, to kiss you once and make a funny face at you): a day is the length of a gnat’s life: I want you for the lifetime of a big, mad animal, like an elephant…. We’ll always be young and unwise together.”
In the last letter he wrote,
“Hotel Chelsea New York May 7th 1953 O Caitlin Caitlin Caitlin my love my love, where are you & where am I and why haven’t you written and I love you every second of every hour of every day & night. I love you, Caitlin. In all the hotel bedrooms I’ve been in in this two weeks, I’ve waited for you all the time. She can’t be long now, I say to my damp miserable self, any minute now she’ll be coming into the room: the most beautiful woman on the earth, and she is mine, & I am hers, until the end of the earth and long long after. Caitlin, I love you. Have you forgotten me? Do you hate me? Why don’t you write?… I’m coming back, by plane, on the 26th of May, & will tell you later just when the plane arrives. Will you meet me in London?…. I love you, I want you, it’s burning hell without you. I don’t want to see anybody or talk to anybody, I’m lost without you. I love your body & your soul & your eyes & your hair & your voice & the way you walk & talk. And that’s all I can see now: you moving, in a light…. I am profoundly in love with you, the only profundity I know…. God, the nights are long & lonely. I LOVE YOU. Oh, sweet Cat.”
Tragically, Thomas did not have the luxury of “[being] bent by the same wintry fever” of old age as the “crooked rose.” Sadly, the force of his alcoholism did the damage that leads to death to him. Guilessly approaching his early death at the same as Van Gogh’s, he did not even, as he urges us to do in his most famous poem , have the opportunity to “rage, rage, against the dying of the light,” which he’d written only 2 years before the end of his own life. Rather than the 5-times repeated refrain of “Do not go gently into that good night”, he needed its recognition and celebration of that life, a tone so vibrant and full of energy that it was worth hanging on to for as long as possible. Thomas, beset by his own demons, would have benefited from its sentiment that life and love alone would have sufficed to keep him on a permanent high. Instead, “a whisky-drenched bender landed him in an oxygen tent at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan during his 4th American reading tour (1943), after which the “doctors took three hours to restore his breathing. By then his brain was irretrievably starved of oxygen. He lay in a coma for 4 days before dying. Just as well, since, during her flight from Wales to New York, Caitlin availed herself so efficiently of the free drinks on the plane, that she arrived at the hospital asking, “Is the bloody man dead yet?”
Detail from Body of a Courtesan in Nine Stages of Decomposition, handscroll, Meiji Japan, c.1870s, Japanese artist Kobayashi Eitaku. I love this painting, and the eight others that make up the work. I think Dylan Thomas, too, would have loved its otherworldly “brutality of fact.”
I did not know Dylan Thomas’s life story until I researched him after my birthday. The last thing in my mind when I went after the origin of “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower” was to end this, my birthday post, on such a sad note Dylan’s atypical-seeming—what is “typical” anyway? —experience of life and love might have been similar to that of Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a sufferer of manic depression: “I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, been more loved; laughed more often for having cried more; worn death ‘as close as dungarees’….I have seen the breadth and depth and width of my mind and heart and seen how frail they both are. Depressed, I have crawled on my hands and knees to get across a room and have done it for month after month. But, normal or manic, I have run faster and loved faster than most I know.” Rather than setting up a hierarchy of loves, I want to celebrate my and Peter’s complex relationship, built by a godly force from the universe in such a way that it could withstand our own discordances, lack of money after our emigration, and modes of thinking so incompatible that I do believe we inhabit, in continuously switching to-and-fros, Mars and/or Venus. For us, Virgil’s Omnia Vincit Amor, combined with good manners, has (mostly) worked. Because I identify strongly with Thomas’s pursuit of “the brutality of fact” and because chunks of his love letters make me swoon like the 16-year-old version of me, I will end with a glimpse into my and Peter’s recent correspondence.
Peter’s love note from about 2 months before my birthday: “I love you the most of everything.”
From his most recent birthday letter: It ends with a quote from Elizabeth Barret Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?,” a poem that has cropped up before in his love letters. This time, he quotes it from the start up to its final repeat of “I love thee,” a refrain that appears 6 times in the poem:
I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life…
He stops the poem there, chopping off the last 1½ lines. “And I am dumb,” his omission says. He wants to spare us two “crooked roses” the brutality of life’s most certain fact:
…and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
And now I am dumb too.