Manvotional: Allan Quatermain on Death

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 12, 2009 · 7 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals


Image from Molly Des Jardin

Editor’s note: The commentary and selection for this manvotional comes from Sam, an AoM Community member.

Nothing quenches my thirst for adventure quite like the books of H. Rider Haggard. This summer I discovered him when I read “King Solomon’s Mines” and its sequel. While the first book is a brilliant epic filled with endearing characters and action-packed adventure, I felt the focus on the two heroines and their “palace intrigue” in the second book really hurt it.

But I’ll keep the gushing to a minimum. The purpose of this blog was to post a quote from “King Solomon’s Mines” that really touched me. The main character, Allan Quatermain, is looking over the sleeping faces of African warriors the night before a massive battle, when he reflects on death:

“Yet man dies not whilst the world, at once his mother and his monument, remains. His name is lost, indeed, but the breath he breathed still stirs the pine-tops on the mountains, the sound of the words he spoke yet echoes on through space; the thoughts his brain gave birth to we have inherited to-day; his passions are our cause of life; the joys and sorrows that he knew are our familiar friends—the end from which he fled aghast will surely overtake us also!

Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.”

I find these words a comfort. Whether there is an afterlife or not, I think it’s of the utmost importance that we take care in the impressions we leave on the world and the people we love. Perhaps the heritage of a human life is the way in which it positively touched others, influencing the next in line to do the same.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Logan September 13, 2009 at 5:46 am

hear hear!

2 Doppelganger September 13, 2009 at 6:01 am

Irvin D. Yalom (existential psychiatrist) describes the above as waves in a pond. Like we are all sources of these circular waves and we affect others around us, even after our death. And they then have something of us in their waves. So, even though we’re not alive some of our ideas, thoughts or the consequences of our actions kind of “are”. So, what’s important is to influence the world (in a positive way of course).

Thank you for the article, it was a very nice saying!

3 Dan September 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

In Christian circles, there is talk about our legacy, not in the financial sense, but in the spiritual sense. This legacy is through teaching our children, being a witness, helping people, etc. On one hand, I’m saddened by death, but of course I believe that there is no better joy than what’s on the other side of death. Yet I hope to be remembered…I suppose we all do. Good thoughts on the subject, truly.

4 gentscheatsheet September 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I like what Pericles said– “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

One thought on the Christian perspective:
Yes, it’s great to leave a legacy–but hopefully it’s a side-effect of a Godly life and not the goal itself. If your goal is to leave a legacy so that people will remember you, I think it’s easy to succumb to putting the attention on yourself rather than the good you’re trying to accomplish.

Just a thought. :) And thanks for the post!

5 Justin September 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Thanks, very nice read

6 YoHuckleberry February 15, 2010 at 12:03 am

This was a great post. Now that I think of Allan Quartermain I remember that he was portrayed, respectfully, by Sean Connery in the movie adaptation of ”The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” A graphic novel by written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O’Neill. I wonder now how much more touching the above passage would be if I’d actually heard it from Mr. Connery himself. He could tell me that I had cancer and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. It woud be like hearing James Earl Jones call a Red Sox game. Those voices just make everything better.

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