How to Say “Farewell”

31 December, 2014

Dear Readers,

        As 2014 slips away, I have been thinking about farewells and closings. There are final, momentous ones; others that may be less final but still of great moment; some that are a relief (admit it — we’ve all had guests we were happy to see depart); and the every-day ones of seeing a spouse off to work or saying “See you later” to a neighbour over the fence. And then there are the ways we finish our letters. Usually we write what we want to communicate, then slap on a “Best wishes” or “Yours truly” that we may or may not mean and set our name underneath the closing. And generally speaking, that approach gets the job done.

         But there’s another, more elegant way to end a letter. Closings used to be made part of the final sentence to leave the reader with a lasting, coherent thought. For example, if Cleopatra invited Antony over for a mid-day meal, he might write to her thus:

Dear Cleopatra

A more formal example might go like this:

Dear Mr. Shakespeare

        People no longer expect an integrated closing, and the surprise of finding one is a small gift of style that renders a letter memorable. And as an author, it is a satisfying thing to make an exit that is smooth and graceful, especially when one’s parting words are meant


Ruth Feiertag

One comment on “How to Say “Farewell”

  1. Sudhir says:

    Difficult to say which I like better between these two, but then I will go with Antony… since Jonson, Marlow and Ford aren’t saying farewell, are they?

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