essay on not being afraid
| Shakespeare exposes death not only as an end to life but the end to a condition or cycle of nature. In his poem, Fear No More, the narrator is perhaps in his late 20s and a boyfriend or lover to the subject of the poem. He speaks of someone who is dead, or perhaps someone who is dying before his eyes. The poem is the narrator’s attempt to free the dying girlfriend and reassure himself that death is natural. It is his way of saying to her that it’s ok to die. The moment captured in this poem could have taken place at a funeral, a wake, in a hospice room or on an intensive care unit of a hospital. This poem has universality and is the type of lyric that could possibly be an ode.
The first stanza establishes the tone for the entire poem. “Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages.” (line 4) The narrator is saying you’ve gone and I won’t see you again or you’ve left no trace for me. The poem shows a person who hides behind a cool exterior or a brave face when most people would naturally cry. Despite his effort, by reading the words he uses, one can tell he is struggling to keep his composure. This poem understates the strength of attachment between the narrator and the dying or deceased. The first two lines deal with seasonal or weather pattern changes. The descriptions of “furious winter’s rages;” and “heat o’ the sun,” (lines 2 and 1) show the reader visual and auditory imagery of these seasonal changes. Making the season out to have an emotional reaction is also an example of personification. The narrator concedes, “thy worldly task hast done,” (line 3) or understands that death is nearing. Line 5 speaks of people that are often described as too vivacious for this world. These are people cut off in the prime of their lives, the “golden lads and girls” (line 5), are compared with the dying elderly. In line 6 one is reminded that everyone must “come to dust.”
The next stanza states that even authority cannot touch death; death is more powerful than they are. The first descriptions in this stanza are of “the frown o’ of the great;” and “the tyrant’s stroke” (lines 7 and 8) are examples of visual and tactile imagery used to enforce the idea of strength. Still, we are not to fear this strength for death is stronger. Death frees one to “care no more to clothe and eat;” (line 9). In death the young are like the old or “the reed is as the oak.” (line 10) The statement itself is a simile that compares the young (reed) to the old (oak). A scepter is a staff that demonstrates imperial authority or is something to lean on like a crutch. The “scepter, learning, physic, “ (line 11) is a young doctor attempting to understand there is a limit to life and eventually he too will die. In the final line, we are reminded that “all follow this,” (line 12) meaning that everyone dies.
In the concluding stanza, death draws near and the girlfriend continues to fight for her grip on life. The boyfriend continues to reassure her that she shouldn’t fear a storm describing the “lightening-flash,” or the “thunder-stone;” (lines 13 and 14). These lines don’t show weather conditions outside a window, but human conditions inside the room. He is fighting his tears and she is holding on for him. The narrator is imposing his own fears on her, likely based upon how she has felt in the past. He mentions the “all-dreaded” (line 14) storm and yet tries to continue reassuring her that “thou hast finished joy and moan.” (line 16) She has lived a life of memories, pains, and worry, but that is over now. He tells her not to think of the “slander” (line 15) that may result from her life and death. He speaks about how “lovers young, all lovers” (line 17) face this eventually. Love must enable him to tell her to “consign to thee, and come to dust.” (line 18) meaning submit to your condition and let death take you from me.
Death is not only an end to life but also a condition of nature. The couplet ending all three stanzas states that people, attitudes, and conditions of life all “must . . . come to dust.” (lines 5, 6, 11, 12, 17, and 18) In other words, death affects us all whether it’s the end of life or the end of a condition like love. The importance of this theme lies in the accepting of natural ends to life’s little things. When you’ve lived well, there are no regrets when death comes.