Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/What Shall I Think

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The Novels of Ivan Turgenev
Volume X: Dream Tales and Prose Poems
Poems in Prose
by Ivan Turgenev, translated by Constance Garnett
What Shall I Think?...


What shall I think when I come to die, if only I am in a condition to think anything then?

Shall I think how little use I have made of my life, how I have slumbered, dozed through it, how little I have known how to enjoy its gifts?

'What? is this death? So soon? Impossible! Why, I have had no time to do anything yet. . . . I have only been making ready to begin!'

Shall I recall the past, and dwell in thought on the few bright moments I have lived through—on precious images and faces?

Will my ill deeds come back to my mind, and will my soul be stung by the burning pain of remorse too late?

Shall I think of what awaits me beyond the grave . . . and in truth does anything await me there?

No. . . . I fancy I shall try not to think,—and shall force myself to take interest in some trifle simply to distract my own attention from the menacing darkness, which is black before me.

I once saw a dying man who kept complaining they would not let him have hazel-nuts to munch! . . . and only in the depths of his fast-dimming eyes, something quivered and struggled like the torn wing of a bird wounded to death. . . .

August 1879.