The Playwright Tony Kushner, 2010
Photographed at the Great Hall at Cooper Union at the podium where Abraham Lincoln delivered The Cooper Union Speech on February 27, 1860
From Act IV of Hydriotaphia, or The Death of Dr. Browne
DR. BROWNE (Glaring at Pumpkin,trying to make him squirm:)
I want to be buried deep. Very deep but...not too deep. Apart from the mob, but not in a lonely place. Avoid the usual cliches, no willow trees, though I’d like a view, for summer evenings. No pine box. Flimsy. Use that urne. Toss out the previous occupant, or better yet, throw me in there with him and let us mingle. (Little pause) No markers, or, well, maybe just a little unpretentious stone. Maybe... “Here lies Sir Thomas Browne, scientist.” “Here lies Sir Thomas Browne, who made his wife miserable.” “Here lies Sir Thomas Browne, no grandchildren ... BUT A GENIUS! SHAKESPEARE HAD NOTHING ON HIM!” (He is now bellowing at Pumpkin with wild hatred and immense pride:) Or maybe an obelisk! Or a pyramid! A pyre! A sea-burial, or...
GET OUT OF HERE!
I han’t following dis, Dr. Browne.
DR. BROWNE (Great delirious newfound certainty!)
I don’t need you, wretch! I’M NOT GOING TO DIE. It isn’t... conceivable! I can’t ... IMAGINE it.
IF I DIE... THE WORLD ENDS! And... (The certainty is dissipating, the hatred of Pumpkin remains:) And we’ll have no need of gravediggers then.
Ef dat happens, Dr. Browne, I findet another job.