FIRST INTERLUDE

WHAT IS THIS DYING?

In the tube we said good-bye. You on the platform, I in the train. In the time of the rockets.

Smiling, you stepped back and blew me a kiss. It was bright with all our past.

The doors slid to, dividing us.

The chance that we should not meet any more was only, I told myself, one in many millions. And yet- that very morning, and only a few streets away, scores of people had been killed. Today, as on a thousand days, they had yawned themselves out of bed, dressed, breakfasted, set off about their business,' then suddenly, or slowly and miserably, they had stopped being. Or so it seems.

What is this dying? No one who has done it can tell us what it is like.

Are we mere sparks of sentience that death extinguishes, or fledgeling immortals who fear to leave the nest? Or both, or neither?

We are conceived in mystery, and into mystery we die.

Let us, at least, not clamour for immortality, not pledge our hearts to it. If the end is sleep, well, when we are tired, sleep is the final bliss.

And yet perhaps what dies is only the dear trivial familiar self of each. Perhaps in our annihilation some vital and eternal thing does break wing, fly free. We cannot know.

But this we know: whether we are annihilated or attain in some strange way eternal life, to have loved is good.

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Death Into Life Contents