The sad truth is that we die. That is not a happy ending, not a sad ending,
simply a fact. Whether we die alone, or die among friends and family; whether
we die in the pursuit of happiness or at the end of a life of frustration, we
The question is what we accomplish during the days and months and years
preceding; do we leave the world a better place or a worse place? If we have
left the world around us a better place, as these characters did, then it's a
Because what constitutes a happy ending? If a character dies happily, among
loving friends, but pulled an Enron on the rest of the planet, is that truly a
happy ending? Or is a happy ending the man who frees a nation at the cost of
his own life? Is the end of Bravehard a happy ending? Or is it the story of a
man who lived deeply, fought bravely, kept faith with his dreams and achieved
something of note thus that happy doesn't enter into it?
The poem "Ulysses" by Tennyson crops up a lot in B5, and some have made it a
point to note the last few stanzas. But that poem is, to me, the summation of
the power of human will. Its ideals echo through the B5 storyline. It's one
of the bravest pieces of writing I've ever read, and its effect on me was
profound. Still is. Read it here, below, and think of B5, and you will see
the resonances in terms of theme and the end of our story.
Ultimately, for me, the end of B5 is neither a sad ending nor a happy ending;
it's not an ending at all, since the universe carries on. But if I were to
describe what kind of ending it was, I'd say it was a graceful ending, a
dignified ending, an ending that said individuals can effect profound change,
if they are willing to put their own lives and happiness on the line; not
happy, not sad, but a testament to the idea that you have used your time here
Everything else is ephemera and coffin-cloth.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,--cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains, but every hour is saved
>From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bounds of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,--you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Alfred Lord Tennyson