Riders to the Sea "No Man At All Can Be Living For Ever, And We Must Be Satisfied"
by J. M. Synge

Riders to the Sea book cover
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"No Man At All Can Be Living For Ever, And We Must Be Satisfied"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: John Millington Synge, product of the Irish Literary Renaissance, took Riders to the Sea from an actual account related to him when he visited the Aran Islands. The setting is Inishmaan, the middle and by far the most interesting of the Aran Group. A man's body is washed up on Donegal, and by the nature of his dress he is thought to be a native of Inishmaan. The play is concerned with the burial of this man, who turns out to be Maurya's son. The beautiful tragic irony and noble pity of the play place it at the crest of Celtic Drama. The great question of the play is how Maurya will accept the death of her son. In the end she is resigned and takes the death with cosmic understanding.

Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied.