emma b. says

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Appointment in Samarra

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

~Sommerset Maugham

In light of all of the insanity, and the administration that spews inanity, the peculiar resonance of this quote is startling and eerie.

P. looked it up the other day as it is the opening quote for John O'Hara's novel "Appointment in Samarra" the tale of the pitched decent of a fortunate son... another curious parallel... I told her she should send it to every columnist, pundit she could think of. And then, reading W. Saffire in the NYT (which is not usual for me as generally I find his contentiousness irksome) I saw that he had referenced it - then again, he is a word junkie and a plausable O'Hara fan.

Can you just imagine if Johnny Cash were still around, if he somehow worked that quote into a song, with all of the gravel in his throat and the gravity of his voice, can't you hear him say "... for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."


  • Emma B: re. that post you edited back there, it was FABULOUS! I loved it and had the good fortune and joy to read the unedited version shortly after it went up there...

    Honestly, vous auriez du le laisser tel-quel!

    By Blogger Queenshiv, at 10:29 AM PDT  

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