- All that lives must die,
- Passing through nature to eternity.
Death is the side of life which is turned away from us.
RAINER MARIA RILKE, letter to W. von Hulewicz, The Duino Elegies
- The distance that the dead have gone
- Does not at first appear;
- Their coming back seems possible
- For many an ardent year.
- And then, that we have followed them
- We more than half suspect,
- So intimate have we become
- With their dear retrospect.
EMILY DICKINSON, "The distance that the dead have gone"
- Certain, when I was born, so long ago,
- Death drew the tap of life and let it flow;
- And ever since the tap has done its task,
- And now there's little but an empty cask.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER, The Canterbury Tales
- Because I could not stop for Death
- He kindly stopped for me
- The Carriage held but just Ourselves
- And Immortality.
EMILY DICKINSON, "Because I could not stop for Death"
I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
WINSTON CHURCHILL, on his 75th birthday, New York Times Magazine, Nov. 1, 1964
- The dying need but little, dear,
- A glass of water's all,
- A flower's unobtrusive face
- To punctuate the wall,
- A fan, perhaps, a friend's regret
- And certainty that one
- No color in the rainbow
- Perceive, when you are gone.
EMILY DICKINSON, "The Dying need but little, Dear"
I know death is the fascinating snake under the leaves, sliding and sliding; I know the heart loves him too, can't turn away, can't break the spell. Everything wants to enter the slow thickness, aches to be peaceful finally and at any cost. Wants to be stone.
MARY OLIVER, "Members of the Tribe," Dream Work
Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man's cottage door and at the palaces of kings.
HORACE, attributed, The Quotable Intellectual
- A death-blow is a life-blow to some
- Who, till they died, did not alive become;
- Who, had they lived, had died, but
- when They died, vitality begun.
EMILY DICKINSON, "A Death blow is a Life blow to Some"
Oh the grave!--the grave!--It buries every error--covers every defect--extinguishes every resentment! From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb, that he should ever have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him!
WASHINGTON IRVING, "Rural Funerals", The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon
- When I have fears that I may cease to be
- Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
- Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
- Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
- When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
- Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
- And think that I may never live to trace
- Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
- And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
- That I shall never look upon thee more,
- Never have relish in the faery power
- Of unreflecting love! then on the shore
- Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
- Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
JOHN KEATS, "When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be"
- God, give us each our own death,
- the dying that proceeds
- from each of our lives.
RAINER MARIA RILKE, The Book of Hours
One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
JAMES JOYCE, "The Dead," Dubliners
To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
The seeds of Death are sown in us when we begin to live, and grow up till, like rampant weeds, they choak the tender flower of life.
SAMUEL RICHARDSON, Clarissa
There is no knowing beyond that membrane, the meniscus of death. What can be seen from here is distorted, refracted. All we can know are those untrustworthy glimpses--that and rumour. The prattle. The dead gossip: it is the reverberation of that gossip against the surface tension of death that the better mediums hear. It is like listening to whispered secrets through a toilet door. It is a crude and muffled susurrus.
Dying is strange and hard if it is not our death, but a death that takes us by storm, when we've ripened none within us.
RAINER MARIA RILKE, The Book of Hours
There must be some unwritten law that says about fifty people have to move into your house when somebody dies. If it weren’t for the smell of death clinging to the walls, you might think it was your family’s turn to host the month neighborhood potluck supper.
ADAM RAPP, Under the Wolf, Under the Dog
The Fear of Death often proves Mortal.
JOSEPH ADDISON, The Spectator, Mar. 29, 1711
We shall see later on that the diversity of the forms of death that circulate invisibly is the cause of the peculiar unexpectedness of obituary notices in the newspapers.
MARCEL PROUST, Sodom and Gomorrah
For a single path leads to the house of Hades.
AESCHYLUS, fragment, Telephos
Death is a distant rumor to the young.
ANDY ROONEY, "A Few Words from Andy Rooney: A Face of America Commentary"
Only on the edge of the grave can man conclude anything.
HENRY ADAMS, The Education of Henry Adams
A man dies not for the many wounds that pierce his breast, unless it be that life's end keep pace with death, nor by sitting on his hearth at home doth he the more escape his appointed doom.
How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
Death is a meeting place of sea and sea.
CONRAD AIKEN, The House of Dust
Unjustly men hate death, which is the greatest defence against their many ills.
- Why do we precious ointments shower,
- Nobler wines why do we pour,
- Beauteous flowers why do we spread,
- Upon the monuments of the dead?
- Nothing they but dust can show,
- Or bones that hasten to be so.
Death is one dream out of another flowing.
CONRAD AIKEN, The House of Dust
So when the friends we love the best lie in their churchyard bed, we must not cry too bitterly over the happy dead; because, for our dear Saviour's sake, our sins are all forgiven; and Christians only fall asleep to wake again in Heaven.
CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, "Child's Funeral"
Death is the continuing of life ... the next part of our life. It's like walking through a door, you know? Walking through the door marked "Death": It's the beginning of a new part of our journey.
ROSEMARY ALTEA, interview, Larry King Live, Mar. 15, 2000
And last of all comes death.
Death loses its terror if one dies when one has consummated one's life!
IRVIN D. YALOM, When Nietzsche Wept
Death, like generation, is a secret of Nature.
MARCUS AURELIUS, Meditations
The dead are too much with us.
ROGER ZELAZNY, Isle of the Dead
There is no god but death.
MAXWELL ANDERSON, Elizabeth the Queen
About the presence of death and dying I don't remember the society in the 1950s being so skittish as it has since become. People still died at home, among relatives and friends, often in the care of a family physician. Death was still to be seen sitting in the parlor, hanging in a butcher shop, sometimes lying in the street.
LEWIS H. LAPHAM, "Momento Mori", Lapham's Quarterly: Death, fall 2013
Death and the sun can't be looked at steadily.
FRANÇOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, Moral Maxims
I detest life-insurance agents: they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so.
STEPHEN LEACOCK, "Insurance Up to Date", Literary Lapses
The attitude of mourning is a faithless attitude, an ignorant attitude. The more we know, the more fully we shall trust, for we shall feel with utter certainty that we and our dead are alike in the hands of perfect Power and perfect Wisdom, directed by perfect Love.
C. W. LEADBEATER, The Science of the Sacraments
My years have limped; but I
Have tried so hard to fly!
And now, suppose Death brings
At last, for me to keep?
KARLE WILSON BAKER, "Alternatives", Burning Bush
The dead can't come to us. We can only go to them.
GLEN DUNCAN, By Blood We Live
There are too many poems about death. Death, churchyards, wormy cadavers. Death is really a small part of life, and it's not the part that you want to concentrate on, because life is life and it's full of untold particulars.
NICHOLSON BAKER, The Anthologist
Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word
When the green pines feel the coming of spring.
Looking back, I sigh; looking before, I sigh again.
What is there to prize in the life's vaporous glory?
LI BAI, "The Old Dust"
Before me now there is only one real fact -- Death. The truth I have been seeking -- this truth is Death. Yet Death is also a seeker. Forever seeking me. So -- we have met at last. And I am prepared. I am at peace. Because I will conquer death with death.
BRUCE LEE, The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee