“Consider the Greenland Shark” (Katherine Rundell)

“In​ 1606 a devastating pestilence swept through London; the dying were boarded up in their homes with their families, and a decree went out that the theatres, the bear-baiting yards and the brothels be closed. It was then that Shakespeare wrote one of his very few references to the plague, catching at our precarity: ‘The dead man’s knell/Is there scarce asked for who, and good men’s lives/Expire before the flowers in their caps/Dying or ere they sicken.’ As he wrote, a Greenland shark who is still alive today swam untroubled through the waters of the northern seas. Its parents would have been old enough to have lived alongside Dante; its great-great-grandparents alongside Julius Caesar. For thousands of years Greenland sharks have swum in silence, as above them the world has burned, rebuilt, burned again.”

read in the London Review of Books