Quote 6: Jonathan Swift

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14/06/2016 by Siddiqui Fayesal

For a long long time, this has been sitting unfinished in my drafts while I kept thinking of a significant anecdote that fit perfectly within the framework of the quote. I tried trimming my real life stories, a little here and a little there so that the edges sit properly within the cleanly chiseled jig-saw squares, but it seemed more complicated than I had initially thought.

I tried making a new one. After all, anyone claiming that he desires to be a writer should be able to weave one out of something that can only be described as empty.

It didn’t bite.

What does the quote mean exactly?

Likening the tops of a tree to the act of dying?

The very first impression that I got from reading it was an observation of wishful thinking regarding the gradient of accomplishment.

The usual quip of quitting before the beginning of the end; of letting go when you’re on the crest of the wave; of leaving the field while you’re still the boss.

I had almost finished tying up an essay incorporating the great Australian cricketer keeper-captain Adam Gilchrist.

Of course, there are those who circumvent the trajectory and create a one-way street to greatness despite continuing beyond their possible and potential rosy Decembers.

Leander Paes. Zinadine Zidane. Luis Figo. Michael Phelps.

I was almost on the verge of putting this up when I thought of putting the quote in direct reference. Perhaps, I thought, the quote is from one of Swift’s works or is regarding a phase in his life and I should put an alluding note towards that. I was expecting that it’ll sit snug with the essay.

What I did not expect was finding out that the quote was based on something very very literal.

Die, as in dying. Top, as in the head.

Well, the tree part was a metaphor for the corporeal being, the physical body. The rest was easy to understand. A quick google search told me what I needed to know. My entire premise fell apart.

Swift made this comment while taking a walk in the park referring to his failing mental faculty, or of the fear of failure of his mental faculty. I found a short bio of Jonathan Swift on bookdrum.com which gave few more details. My entire attempt was wasted. I don’t usually do something as weird as this. I first check the source and only then fling it out of I have something better to say.

I definitely did not have something better to say this time. I had no idea that Jonathan Swift had problems with memory!


I shall be like that tree, I shall die at the top.

Siddiqui F.


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