Notable Quotes
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Death lieth still in the way of life,
Like as a stone in the way of a brook;
I will sing against thee, Death, as the brook does,
I will make thee into music which does not die.

SIDNEY LANIER, Songs Against Death

Death is the sleeping partner of life.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

My soul defense against the natural horror which death inspires, is to love beyond it.

MADAME SWETCHINE, "Thoughts," The Writings of Madame Swetchine

He that shrinks from the grave with too great a dread, has an invisible fear behind him pushing him into it.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Whither canst thou carry us, O death, from the presence of that God, whose loving-kindness is better than life? When, with thy trident, thou shalt break the pitcher of this mortal frame; the deathless soul is not like water spilt upon the ground; for the pitcher being broken at the fountain, it runs to its original, and can be gathered up again.


Look out, Death: I am coming.
Art thou not glad? what talks we'll have.
What memories of old battles.
Come, bring the bowl, Death; I am thirsty.

SIDNEY LANIER, Songs Against Death

To death we owe our life; the passing of one generation opens a way for another.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Only where there are graves are there resurrections.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Without death in the world, existence in it would soon become, through over-population, the most frightful of curses.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Leap through the Mystery of death as the circus-rider leaps through the papered hoop ... find Life ambling along beneath us on the Other Side?

SIDNEY LANIER, Songs Against Death

Death is simply the soul's change of residence.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

We're all embers from the same fire. Our ember winks out, we're ashes, we go back to the fire.

WILLIAM SHATNER, Esquire Magazine, May 2012

To die for others is the highest purpose a person may achieve.


Death is the only god that comes when you call.

ROGER ZELAZNY, "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai"

God has created too few unmixed evils to warrant the belief that death is one of them. In all things else in nature, goodness so abounds that we are authorized to infer that it does not stop even at the grave. It is only that her footprints have become invisible.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Death takes no bribes.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1742

Every deceased friend is a magnet drawing us into another world.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living.

ROGER ZELAZNY, This Immortal

Strange secrets are let out by Death
Who blabs so oft the follies of this world.


When one existentially awakens from within, the relation of birth-and-death is not seen as a sequential change from the former to the latter. Rather, living as it is, is no more than dying, and at the same time there is no living separate from dying. This means that life itself is death and death itself is life. That is, we do not shift sequentially from birth to death, but undergo living-dying in each and every moment.

MASAO ABE, A Study of Dogen: His Philosophy and Religion

When Death puts out our Flame, the Snuff will tell,
If we were Wax, or Tallow by the smell.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1739

There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives ... their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them.... Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die.

CHARLES BUKOWSKI, The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.

OSCAR WILDE, The Canterville Ghost

Death is a fisherman, the world we see
His fish-pond is, and we the fishes be;
His net some general sickness; howe'er he
Is not so kind as other fishers be;
For if they take one of the smaller fry,
They throw him in again, he shall not die:
But death is sure to kill all he can get,
And all is fish with him that comes to net.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1733

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?

EDGAR ALLAN POE, "The Premature Burial"

Those who do not know how to live must make a merit of dying.


Fear not Death; for the sooner we die, the longer shall we be immortal.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1740

As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships with this best and truest friend of mankind that death's image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling, and I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity...of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting that —- young as I am — I may not live to see another day. Yet no one of all my acquaintances could say that in company I am morose or disgruntled.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART, letter to Leopold Mozart, Apr. 4, 1787

Death is for many of us the gate of hell; but we are inside on the way out, not outside on the way in.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, A Treatise on Parents and Children

Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, letter to Cecil Spring-Rice, Mar. 12, 1900

Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. But, once realise what the true object is in life — that it is not pleasure, not knowledge, not even fame itself, 'that last infirmity of noble minds' — but that it is the development of character, the rising to a higher, nobler, purer standard, the building-up of the perfect Man — and then, so long as we feel that this is going on, and will (we trust) go on for evermore, death has for us no terror; it is not a shadow, but a light; not an end, but a beginning!

LEWIS CARROLL, preface, Sylvie and Bruno

Death walks faster than the wind and never returns what he has taken.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, "The Story of a Mother"

Death, however, does itch. It itches all the time. It is always with us, scratching at some inner door. Mirroring, softly, barely audibly, just under the membrane of consciousness. Hidden in disguise, leaking out in a variety of symptoms. It is the wellspring of many of our worries, stresses, and conflicts.

IRVIN D. YALOM, interview, Wise Counsel

Death is the end of those who have done nothing to cause their names to live after them.

XENOPHON, attributed, Day's Collacon

Scientists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is life after death -- though they say it's virtually impossible to get decent Chinese food.

DAVID LETTERMAN, Late Show with David Letterman, October 13, 2014

If the matter of death is reduced to sleep and rest, what can there be so bitter in it, that any one should pine in eternal grief for the decease of a friend?

LUCRETIUS, De Rerum Natura

By protracting life, we do not deduct one jot from the duration of death.

LUCRETIUS, De Rerum Natura

Oh, sure, I've come close to dying a few times, but usually I was having so much fun at the time that I barely noticed the danger.

BUZZ ALDRIN, No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon

The dead body makes the living one obscene. It's why we close the eyes, too. The dead shouldn't have to look on the lewd aliveness of things.

GLEN DUNCAN, By Blood We Live

Whatever is certain in death is slightly alleviated by what is not so infallible; the time when it shall happen is undefined, but it is more or less connected with the infinite, and what we call eternity.

JEAN DE LA BRUYÈRE, "Of Mankind", Les Caractères

It's death, that's what I'm suffering from. The systematic encroachment of the big D.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, Smiley's People

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