Thursday, 28 June 2012

The death of a child


Bill Bryson in his book “At Home – A short history of Private Life “Anchor Books 2011)  dis-abuses  us of the notion that between the 13th  and 19th  centuries the death of a child was rarely mourned. (see Chapter 18 “The Nursery”.)


We have come to accept this notion without serious critique, based on our belief that in earlier days the deaths of children were to be expected and thus were rarely mourned. 

Bryson, in his inimitable way sets the record straight.

Here for example are the words of William Shakespeare in his play “King John” ( as quoted by Bryson.). Shakespeare penned them soon after the death of his 11 years old son. in 1596.

“Grief fills the room up of my empty child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his recent garments with his form,

In honour of my nephews Jack Leonard Lambert (sudden infant death),and Thomas Povey, (premature birth and death) and of my beloved Hunter Pope,:  each of whom died so young.

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