The Art of Dying


Mallarme drowning
Chatterton coughing up his lungs
Auden frozen in a cottage
Byron expiring at Missolonghi
and Hart Crane visiting Missolonghi and dying there too

The little boot of Sylvia Plath wedged in its fatal stirrup
Tasso poisoned
Crabbe poisoned
T.S. Eliot raving for months in a Genoa hospital before he died
Pope disappearing like a barge into a twilight of drugs

The execution of Marianne Moore
Pablo Neruda spattered against the Mississippi
Hofmannsthal's electrocution
The quiet painless death of Robert Lowell
Alvarez bashing his bicycle into an oak

The Brownings lost at sea
The premature burial of Thomas Gray
The baffling murder of Stephen Vincent Benet
Stevenson dying of dysentery
and Catullus of a broken heart


Tom Disch, Yes, Let's: New & Selected Poems, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.