What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

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A poetic question of ethics

Just after Cleopatra had surrendered to the asp,
Her personal physician heard her give a stifled gasp.
He rushed into her chamber and assessed the situation;
From his robe he drew a flask of antivenin preparation.

With his staff he slung the snake into the corner of the room
And, hoping still to save his queen from her reptilian doom,
While praying that his potion would be equal to the task,
He knelt beside her bedside, and offered her the flask.

“Quick—take and drink,” he pleaded, “it’s the only certain cure.”
Instead she knocked the flask aside; it shattered on the floor.
Before he could obtain more antivenin, Cleo died—
So was the doctor guilty of assisted suicide?

He didn't beat her, choke her, hang her, slash her wrists, or drown her—
But then again, he didn't force the antivenin down her.


Blogger Michael Crowley said...

Great Stuff, man! It's true - what do you do with a patient that does not want to participate in their cure? I just thought of something - remember the play that started the whole "Angry Young Man" movement in British theatre? I can't remember its name for the life of me and I've never read more than descriptions of it, but if I remember accurately the protagonist is a paralyzed man angry about being kept alive when he wishes to die. If that young man is taken as a symbol of wider dissatisfaction with the world the older generation has put into place, does the fact that the protagonist can no longer physically act mean that the author concedes that change is impossible?

On another note, if I were Poe I would haunt Stallone until he dies a premature and emaciated death rather than let him near my life's work. What's next? Schwartzenegger's reworking of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle? Oscar Wilde? Oh lord, now that would be something to see. Either that, or Britney Spears as Louisa May Alcott. From all such, Good Lord, deliver us.

When a person's demise is quite sure/excepting a drug that will cure/is the doctor at fault/when his ill patient balks/and instead builds their funeral vault?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Are you thinking of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger? I don't know the play itself all that well, but Osborne does get the credit for starting that movement.

The poem is more of a silly exercise in writing a sonnet in iambic septameter than it is a serious ethical question, but that's OK...

11:02 AM  

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