The Revel

More verse, this poem ominously quoted in Dracula:

We meet ’neath the sounding rafter,
And the walls around are bare;
As they shout back our peals of laughter
It seems that the dead are there.
Then stand to your glasses, steady!
We drink in our comrades’ eyes:
One cup to the dead already—
Hurrah for the next that dies!

2 Replies to “The Revel”

  1. Ooh, good find. I liked this line: “But soon, though our hearts are breaking, / They’ll burn with the wine we’ve drunk.”

    Reminds me of “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

    One reason I find gothic literature so interesting is that idea of memento mori; they lived in a time in which death was a more constant companion, and out of that you get “here lies one whose name was writ in water”, not to mention the ill-fated attempts to reject death via supernatural (Dracula) or scientific (Frankenstein) means.

    When I was in Paris in 2017, I waited in line several hours to tour the catacombs, without knowing if it would be worthwhile or simply another tourist trap. It was, in fact, profoundly moving to walk through room after room of human bones. And a bit comforting, in a way, to contemplate how many have preceded us along the path.

    The postcard pinned next to my desk reads: “Ainsi tout passe sur terre / Esprit, beauté, grâces talent / Telle est une fleur éphémère / Que renverse le moindre vent”.

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    1. The poem was apparently published in 1914, which makes me suspect it might have been the inspiration for the “Last Man’s Clubs” that sprang up after WWI, where a group of veterans would buy a bottle of French cognac and put it aside for the last two survivors to share. The custom was revived after WWII and again after Korea and Vietnam although not nearly so widespread. Here’s a story about one in upstate NY. https://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Final-toast-for-Last-Man-s-Club-2265309.php

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