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Thomas Keneally: death is not the fly in the cosmic ointment. It is the cosmic ointment

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Life is strong in people – we didn’t get to be wreckers of the planet without a mighty life force in us. But accepting death is one of the contentments of age

When I was 16, I was given a wonderful anthology, Poetry of the English-Speaking World, as an English prize. I recommend it to this day, since I have returned to it often between 1952 and now. And early in it occurs a poem which brought me up short then, at demented 16, and speaks still, at a somewhat differently demented 81.

When I say “demented” I do not yet mean the aphasia which has disassembled the splendid cerebral mechanisms of some of my contemporaries. I mean just “demented” in the plain old sense of an animal whose end is not far off and who knows it.

Our pleasance here is all vain glory,

This fals world is but transitory,

Related: Thomas Keneally: 'Cultural appropriation is dangerous'

Death is one of the three thing in life I have found you can’t hire a proxy or stand-in for

What will a world be like where the privileged live for centuries and the poor still live for less than one?

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