Death

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Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. ~ Francis Bacon

Death is the permanent end of the life of a biological organism. Death may refer to the end of life as either an event or condition. In many cultures and in the arts, death is considered a being or otherwise personified, wherein it is usually capitalized as "Death".

Quotes[edit]

Alphabetized by author or source
The bitter, yet merciful, lesson which death teaches us is to distinguish the gold from the tinsel, the true values from the worthless chaff. ~ Felix Adler
Every breath you take is a step towards death. ~ Ali
The fittest place where man can die
Is where he dies for man. ~ Michael J. Barry
Death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home. ~ Francis Bacon
The fear of death is worse than death. ~ Robert Burton
Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep,
And yet a third of life is pass'd in sleep. ~ Lord Byron
To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die. ~ Thomas Campbell
Once realise what the true object is in life — [..] 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
All that is alive dies. ~ Chicó in the play Auto da Compadecida
Death is not the end. Death can never be the end. Death is the road. Life is the traveller. The soul is the guide. ~ Sri Chinmoy
O Time! consumer of all things; O envious age! thou dost destroy all things and devour all things with the relentless teeth of years, little by little in a slow death. ~ Leonardo da Vinci
To refuse death is to refuse life. ~ Ursula K. Le Guin
All religions speak about death during this life on earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism. Our egoism must be broken. ~ G. I. Gurdjieff
Every one of those unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as of the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. ~ G. I. Gurdjieff
Who says that we shall pass, or the fame of us fade and die,
While the living stars fulfil their round in the living sky? ~ William Ernest Henley
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid. ~ William Ernest Henley
Life is worth Living
Through every grain of it,
From the foundations
To the last edge
Of the cornerstone, death. ~ William Ernest Henley
Dear, was it really you and I?
In truth the riddle's ill to read,
So many are the deaths we die
Before we can be dead indeed. ~ William Ernest Henley
From the winter’s gray despair,
From the summer’s golden languor,
Death, the lover of Life,
Frees us for ever. ~ William Ernest Henley
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ~ Steve Jobs
Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. ~ Steve Jobs
In the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow… ~ George MacDonald
Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. ~ Nelson Mandela
Strange—is it not?—that of the myriads who
Before us passed the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the road
Which to discover we must travel too. ~ Omar Khayyam
I don't know what God is.
I don't know what death is.

But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement. ~ Mary Oliver

It was said that life was cheap in Ankh-Morpork. This was, of course, completely wrong. Life was often very expensive; you could get death for free. ~ Terry Pratchett in Pyramids
Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas. ~ Erwin Rommel
To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead. ~ Bertrand Russell
One day in the afternoon of the world, glum deat] will come and sit in you... ~ William Saroyan
To be, or not to be, —that is the question. ~ William Shakespeare
A free man thinks of nothing less than of death; and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but on life. ~ Baruch Spinoza
Life into death—life’s other shape; no rupture, only crossing. ~ Dejan Stojanovic
If birth is a manifestation of life, death is another. ~ Dejan Stojanovic
  • It is written that the last enemy to be vanquished is death. We should begin early in life to vanquish this enemy by obliterating every trace of the fear of death from our minds. Then can we turn to life and fill the whole horizon of our souls with it, turn with added zest toall the serious tasks which it imposes and to the pure delights which here and there it affords.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation
  • Let us learn from the lips of death the lessons of life. Let us live truly while we live, live for what is true and good and lasting. And let the memory of our dead help us to do this. For they are not wholly separated from us, if we remain loyal to them. In spirit they are with us. And we may think of them as silent, invisible, but real presences in our households.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation
  • The bitter, yet merciful, lesson which death teaches us is to distinguish the gold from the tinsel, the true values from the worthless chaff.
    The terrible events of life are great eye-openers. They force us to learn that which it is wholesome for us to know, but which habitually we try to ignore — namely, that really we have no claim on a long life ; that we are each of us liable to be called off at any moment, and that the main point is not how long we live, but with what meaning we fill the short allotted span — for short it is at best.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation
  • Every breath you take is a step towards death.
    • Ali, Nahj ul-Balagha, Sayings: 74
  • Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.
    • Grand Inquisitor Silecio, in The Fountain, screenplay by Darren Aronofsky.
  • Death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home.
    • Francis Bacon, An Essay on Death published in The Remaines of the Right Honourable Francis Lord Verulam (1648) but may not have been written by Bacon
  • Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
  • It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates, and masters, the fear of death; and therefore, death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear preoccupieth it.
  • I have often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils.
  • The biggest part of my life I did not trust people who were not scared of dying, because when you get older, you think about death more and more times. I think if we could chose, no one wants to die. That's why we can come to the conclusion that everyone wants to have the eternal life, which seems to become possible in the future due to the developments in the medical science. But the question is not really if you want eternal life, it is more if you wants to have eternal life at your children's expense. By the way: we would get big ecologic problems if we all remain alive.
    • Actor Jack Nicholson replying to the question if he would like to have the eternal life in an interview with Dutch magazine FilmValley from April 2008.
  • Death is the universal salt of states;
    Blood is the base of all things — law and war.
  • The death-change comes.
    Death is another life. We bow our heads
    At going out, we think, and enter straight
    Another golden chamber of the king's,
    Larger than this we leave, and lovelier.
    And then in shadowy glimpses, disconnect,
    The story, flower-like, closes thus its leaves.
    The will of God is all in all. He makes,
    Destroys, remakes, for His own pleasure, all.
  • To me the honour is sufficient of belonging to the universe — such a great universe, and so grand a scheme of things. Not even Death can rob me of that honour. For nothing can alter the fact that I have lived; I have been I, if for ever so short a time. And when I am dead, the matter which composes my body is indestructible — and eternal, so that come what may to my 'Soul,' my dust will always be going on, each separate atom of me playing its separate part — I shall still have some sort of a finger in the pie. When I am dead, you can boil me, burn me, drown me, scatter me — but you cannot destroy me: my little atoms would merely deride such heavy vengeance. Death can do no more than kill you.
    • W. N. P. Barbellion (Bruce Frederick Cummings), The Journal of a Disappointed Man, Chatto & Windus, 1920.
  • But whether on the scaffold high,
    Or in the battle's van,
    The fittest place where man can die
    Is where he dies for man.
    • Michael J. Barry, The Place to Die, in The Dublin Nation (Sept. 28, 1844), Volume II, p. 809.
  • For certain is death for the born
    And certain is birth for the dead;
    Therefore over the inevitable
    Thou shouldst not grieve.
  • Never the spirit was born, the spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams.
  • Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.
  • Here. Astride the top of nothingness, I suddenly receive the call of death. Who, in passing, tells me that it’s nothing. Nothing more than the absence of the word itself. Noting more, and simply nothingness.
  • A little before you made a leap in the dark.
    • Sir Thomas Browne, Works, II, 26 (Ed. 1708); Letters from the Dead (1701). Works, II, p. 502.
  • The thousand doors that lead to death.
    • Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section XLIV.
  • We all labour against our own cure; for death is the cure of all disease.
  • Fear Death? – to feel the fog in my throat,
    The mist in my face.
  • Timor mortis morte pejor.
    The fear of death is worse than death.
  • Friend Ralph! thou hast
    Outrun the constable at last!
    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto III, line 1,367.
  • Ah! surely nothing dies but something mourns!
  • "Whom the gods love die young," was said of yore.
  • Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep,
    And yet a third of life is pass'd in sleep.
  • To live in hearts we leave behind
    Is not to die.
  • I believe this thought, of the possibility of death — if calmly realised, and steadily faced would be one of the best possible tests as to our going to any scene of amusement being right or wrong. If the thought of sudden death acquires, for you, a special horror when imagined as happening in a theatre, then be very sure the theatre is harmful for you, however harmless it may be for others; and that you are incurring a deadly peril in going. 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!
  • If sudden, the visit of the Grim Reaper cannot be unwelcome.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 53.
  • Love the others and you will be loved!” is a saying that might sound as a terrible and unjust accusation against all the innocents that have been hated and perhaps even tortured and killed.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 58.
  • "For all that let me tell thee, brother Panza," said Don Quixote, "that there is no recollection which time does not put an end to, and no pain which death does not remove."
    "And what greater misfortune can there be," replied Panza, "than the one that waits for time to put an end to it and death to remove it?"
  • Death is not the end. Death can never be the end. Death is the road. Life is the traveller. The soul is the guide.
  • At length, fatigued with life, he bravely fell,
    And health with Boerhaave bade the world farewell.
  • Our souls are prisoners of the terror of death, and the day is beautiful.
    • Paulo Coelho, "Chapter 1" (in English). Quinta Montanha (The Fifth Mountain). translated by Clifford E. Landers (1st edition ed.). New York: HarperFlamingo. 1998. ISBN 0060175443. 
  • Mors dominos servis et sceptra ligonibus æquat,
    Dissimiles simili conditione trahens.
    • Death levels master and slave, the sceptre and the law, and makes the unlike like.
    • Walter Colman, La Danse Machabre or Death's Duell (c. 1633).
  • O Time! consumer of all things; O envious age! thou dost destroy all things and devour all things with the relentless teeth of years, little by little in a slow death. Helen, when she looked in her mirror, seeing the withered wrinkles made in her face by old age, wept and wondered why she had twice been carried away.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), XIX Philosophical Maxims. Morals. Polemics and Speculations., as translated by Edward MacCurdy
  • We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
    • Richard Dawkins, 'Unweaving The Rainbow'
    • Dawkins has stated on many occasions that this passage will be read at his funeral.
  • Death carries off a man who is gathering flowers and whose mind is distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village.
    • Dhammapada, Verse 47; F. Max Müller, translator.
  • What argufies pride and ambition?
    Soon or late death will take us in tow:
    Each bullet has got its commission,
    And when our time's come we must go.
  • "People can't die, along the coast," said Mr. Peggotty, "except when the tide's pretty nigh out. They can't be born, unless it's pretty nigh in—not properly born, till flood. He's a-going out with the tide."
  • Death be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
    For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
    Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
    Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
    And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
    And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
    One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
  • Earl of Sandwich: 'Pon my honor, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die on the gallows or of the pox.
    John Wilkes: That must depend my Lord, upon whether I first embrace your Lordship's principles, or your Lordship's mistresses.
    • Exchange retold by Sir Charles Petrie, The Four Georges, p. 133 (1935).
  • Death is the king of this world: 'tis his park
    Where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain
    Are music for his banquet.
  • What you love, you will love. What you undertake you will complete. You are a fulfiller of hope; you are to be relied on. But' seventeen years give little armor against despair...Consider, Arren. To refuse death is to refuse life.
  • Man has the possibility of existence after death. But possibility is one thing and the realization of the possibility is quite a different thing.
  • Every one of those unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as of the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. Only such a sensation and such a cognizance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them that has swallowed up the whole of their Essence, and also that tendency to hate others which flows from it.
  • The sole means now for the saving of the beings of the planet Earth would be to implant again into their presences a new organ ... of such properties that every one of these unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. Only such a sensation and such a cognizance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them.
  • Upon the Grave which swallows fast/'Tis peace at last, oh peace at last.
  • Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.
  • Those incantations of the Spring
    That made the heart a centre of miracles
    Grow formal, and the wonder-working bours
    Arise no more — no more.

    Something is dead . . .
    'Tis time to creep in close about the fire
    And tell grey tales of what we were, and dream
    Old dreams and faded, and as we may rejoice
    In the young life that round us leaps and laughs,
    A fountain in the sunshine, in the pride
    Of God's best gift that to us twain returns,
    Dear Heart, no more — no more.

  • Who says that we shall pass, or the fame of us fade and die,
    While the living stars fulfil their round in the living sky?
Life is worth Living
Through every grain of it,
From the foundations
To the last edge
Of the cornerstone, death.
  • Think on the shame of dreams for deeds,
    The scandal of unnatural strife,
    The slur upon immortal needs,
    The treason done to life:

    Arise! no more a living lie,
    And with me quicken and control
    Some memory that shall magnify
    The universal Soul.

Life — life — let there be life!
  • Dear, was it really you and I?
    In truth the riddle's ill to read,
    So many are the deaths we die
    Before we can be dead indeed.
  • Life — give me life until the end,
    That at the very top of being,
    The battle-spirit shouting in my blood,
    Out of the reddest hell of the fight
    I may be snatched and flung
    Into the everlasting lull,
    The immortal, incommunicable dream.
  • From the winter’s gray despair,
    From the summer’s golden languor,
    Death, the lover of Life,
    Frees us for ever.
  • Aequa lege Necessitas
    Sortitur insignes et imos;
    Omne capax movet urna nomen.
    • Death takes the mean man with the proud;
      The fatal urn has room for all.
    • Horace, Odes, III, i, 14 (translated by John Conington).
  • And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
  • Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
  • No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
  • Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
  • And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
  • Verse, Fame and beauty are intense indeed,
    But Death intenser – Death is life's high mead.
  • Despite the solace of hypocritical religiosity and its seductive promise of an after-life of heavenly bliss, most of us will do anything to thwart the inevitable victory of biological death.
  • Strange—is it not?—that of the myriads who
    Before us passed the door of Darkness through,
    Not one returns to tell us of the road
    Which to discover we must travel too.
  • If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.
  • It is nobody's fault. The great circle of life has begun, but you see, not all of us arrive together in the end...She'll [Little Foot's mother] always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you. In a way, you'll never be apart because you are still a part of each other.
  • The thunderstorm is a constant phenomenon, raging alternately over some part of the world or the other. Can a single man or creature escape death if all that charge of lightning strikes the earth?
    • Kalki Krishnamurthy, in "Sivakozhundu of Tiruvazhundur" as translated in Kalki : Selected Stories (1999).
  • The first day after a death, the new absence
    Is always the same; we should be careful
     
    Of each other, we should be kind
    While there is still time.
  • You are a player in the rigorous game of living.
    You can’t blame the game if you don’t believe the rules or bother to remember them.
    The first rule is: every player dies; none knows when it’s coming; the youngest and best often go first.
    Everyone has to play.
    The game goes on forever – or until you win.
    You win by finding death before it finds you.
    The prize – is life.
    • Barry Long, from the audio tape Seeing through Death, 1983.
  • There is no confessor like unto Death!
    Thou canst not see him, but he is near:
    Thou needest not whisper above thy breath,
    And he will hear;
    He will answer the questions,
    The vague surmises and suggestions,
    That fill thy soul with doubt and fear.
  • Death never takes one alone, but two!
    Whenever he enters in at a door,
    Under roof of gold or roof of thatch,
    He always leaves it upon the latch,
    And comes again ere the year is o'er,
    Never one of a household only.
  • "In the midst of life we are in death," said one; it is more true that in the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow — a word for that which cannot be — a negation, owing the very idea of itself to that which it would deny. But for life there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing. Not even nothingness preceded life. Nothingness owes its very idea to existence.
  • Death opens unknown doors. It is most grand to die.
  • It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
    • Nelson Mandela, I am prepared to die statement in the Rivonia trial, Pretoria Supreme court (20 April 1964)
  • Death hath a thousand doors to let out life:
    I shall find one.
  • In this world, one day death is going to take the life from everything that you love. So while you're able, love what you have. Takes the death from your life.
    • Mercy Ealing to Joe Carpenter, from Sole Survivor (2000 film), teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson.
  • Death is for the living and not for the dead.
  • There is no death! the stars go down
    To rise upon some other shore,
    And bright in Heaven's jeweled crown,
    They shine for ever more.
  • At the end of your life, you're lucky if you die.
  • It nice it happen to you. Like you come to the island and had a holiday. Sun didn't burn you red-red, just brown. You sleep and no mosquito eat you. But the truth is, it bound to happen if you stay long enough. So take that nice picture you got in your head home with you, but don't be fooled. We lonely here mostly too. If we lucky, maybe, we got some nice pictures to take with us.
  • Death did not come to my mother
    Like an old friend.
    She was a mother, and she must
    Conceive him.
    Up and down the bed she fought crying
    Help me, but death
    Was a slow child
    Heavy.
    • Josephine Miles, "Conception" (1974) st. 1–2; Collected Poems, University of Illinois Press, 1983.
  • I fled, and cried out Death;
    Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
    From all her caves, and back resounded Death.
  • Before mine eyes in opposition sits
    Grim Death, my son and foe.
  • Death
    Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
    His famine should be filled.
  • Eas'd the putting off
    These troublesome disguises which we wear.
  • Behind her Death
    Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
    On his pale horse.
  • How gladly would I meet
    Mortality my sentence, and be earth
    Insensible! how glad would lay me down
    As in my mother's lap!
  • And over them triumphant Death his dart
    Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invoked.
  • I don't know what God is.
    I don't know what death is.

    But I believe they have between them
    some fervent and necessary arrangement.

  • Some people think that we are stuck in physical reality like flies in flypaper or victims in quicksand, so that each motion we make only worsens our predicament and hastens our extinction. Others see the universe as a sort of theater into which we are thrust at birth and from which we depart forever at death. In the backs of their minds people with either attitude will see a built-in threat in each new day; even joy will be suspect because it, too, must end in the body's eventual death. I used to feel this way. When I fell in love with Rob, my joy served to double the underlying sense of tragedy I felt, as if death mocked me all the more by making life twice as precious. I saw each day bringing me closer to a total extinction that I could hardly imagine, but which I resented with growing vehemence.
  • A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered "How am I supposed to know?"
    "How do you know? You're a Zen master!" exclaimed the samurai.
    "Yes, but not a dead one", Hakuin answered
  • Death is repose, but the thought of death disturbs all repose.
  • See my lips tremble and my eyeballs roll,
    Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul!
  • O Death, all eloquent! you only prove
    What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.
  • Till tired, he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
  • But thousands die without or this or that,
    Die, and endow a college or a cat.
  • It was said that life was cheap in Ankh-Morpork. This was, of course, completely wrong. Life was often very expensive; you could get death for free.
  • There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
  • Withdrawn into the peace of this desert,
    along with some books, few but wise,
    I live in conversation with the deceased,
    and listen to the dead with my eyes.
    • Francisco de Quevedo, From the Tower.
  • I died as a mineral and became a plant,
    I died as plant and rose to animal,
    I died as animal and I was Man.
    Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
    Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
    With angels blest; but even from angelhood
    I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
    When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
    I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
    Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
    Proclaims in organ tones, To Him we shall return.
    • Rumi. "I Died as a Mineral", as translated in The Mystics of Islam (1914) edited by Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, p. 125.
    • Variant translation: Originally, you were clay. From being mineral, you became vegetable. From vegetable, you became animal, and from animal, man. During these periods man did not know where he was going, but he was being taken on a long journey nonetheless. And you have to go through a hundred different worlds yet.
      • As quoted in Multimind (1986) by Robert Ornstein.
  • I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting. Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold; surely the same pride should teach us to think truly about man's place in the world. Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a splendour of their own.
  • Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death where is thy sting, O Grave where is thy victory?
  • Death is utterly acceptable to consciousness and life. There has been endless times of numberless deaths, but neither consciousness nor life has ceased to arise. The felt quality and cycle to death has not modified the fragility of flowers, even the flowers within the human body.
  • Yes [death has become a taboo]. Today people want to avoid the subject and hide the deaths that happen around them. It is as if the world were a hotel where the dead usually disappear at night, without any guest being able to notice their presence. While movies and television address death, they do not touch the fundamental point of finitude. The deaths are false, the good guys get shot and come back to life. It's another way of treating death as unreal.
  • Death is the inventor of God.
  • One day in the afternoon of the world, glum death will come and sit in you, and when you get up to walk, you will be as glum as death, but if you're lucky, this will only make the fun better and the love greater.
  • We may have years, we may have hours, but sooner of later, we push up flowers.
  • To be, or not to be, —that is the question:—
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? —To die, —to sleep,—
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, —'tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, —to sleep;—
    To sleep! perchance to dream: —ay, there's the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause: there's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,—
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns,—puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know naught of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
    With this regard, their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.
  • Death is one of two things. Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything; or, as we are told, it is really a change: a migration of the soul from this place to another.
  • Death is an equall doome
    To good and bad, the common In of rest.
    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), II. 59. Also III. 3. 30.
  • A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.
  • Life into death—life’s other shape; no rupture, only crossing.
    • Dejan Stojanovic in Circling, “Awakening of a Flower” (Sequence: “A Conversations with Atoms”).
  • If birth is a manifestation of life, death is another.
  • Life and death merge in greatness.
  • They are both spectacular, life and death.
  • Chicó - John! John! Died! Oh my God, poor died of John Cricket! So yellow, and so shameless to die like that! What do I do in the world without John? John! John! There is no way, John Cricket died. Ended the smartest Cricket in the world. He completed his sentence and met with the only irredeemable evil, what is the mark of our strange destiny on earth, that fact without explanation that matches everything that is alive in one flock of guilty, because all that is alive dies. What can I do now? Only your funeral and pray for his soul.
  • Since every day a little of our life is taken from us—since we are dying every day—the final hour when we cease to exist does not of itself bring death; it merely completes the death process.
  • Death is so preoccupied with life, that is has no time for anything else.
    • Mikhail Turovsky (b. 1933), Russian-American artist and aphorist. Itch of Wisdom (Cicuta Press, 1986).
  • And God said, "A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb."
  • The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
  • Death is nature's way of saying, "Your table is ready."
    • Robin Williams, as quoted in The Fourth—And by Far the Most Recent—637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1990) edited by Robert Byrne, p, 518
  • O, sir! the good die first,
    And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust
    Burn to the socket.
  • Insatiate archer! could not one suffice?
    Thy shaft flew thrice; and thrice my peace was slain!
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night I, line 212.
  • Who can take
    Death's portrait? The tyrant never sat.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 52.
  • The chamber where the good man meets his fate
    Is privileged beyond the common walk
    Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of heaven.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 633.
  • A death-bed's a detector of the heart.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 641.
  • Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
    And if in death still lovely, lovelier there;
    Far lovelier! pity swells the tide of love.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night III, line 104.
  • Death is the crown of life;
    Were death denyed, poor man would live in vain;
    Were death denyed, to live would not be life;
    Were death denyed, ev'n fools would wish to die.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night III, line 523.
  • The knell, the shroud, the mattock and the grave,
    The deep, damp vault, the darkness, and the worm.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV, line 10.
  • And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV, line 17.
  • As soon as man, expert from time, has found
    The key of life, it opes the gates of death.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV, line 122.
  • Early, bright, transient, chaste, as morning dew
    She sparkled, was exhal'd, and went to heaven.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 600.
  • Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 1,011.
  • While on a journey, Chuang Tzu found a skull, dry and parched. With sorrow he questioned and lamented the end to all things. When he finished speaking, he dragged the skull over, and using it as a pillow, lay down to sleep. In the night, the skull came to his dreams and said, "You are a fool to rejoice in the entanglements of life." Chuang Tzu couldn't believe this and asked "If I could return you to your life, you would want that, wouldn't you?"
    Stunned by Chuang Tzu's foolishness the skull replied, "How do you know that it is bad to be dead?"
  • Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi.

Bible[edit]

  • “‘And those slain by Jehovah in that day will be from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be mourned, nor will they be gathered up or buried. They will become like manure on the surface of the ground.’
  • With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 163-81.
  • Death is a black camel, which kneels at the gates of all.
    • Abd-el-Kader.
  • Call no man happy till he is dead.
    • Æschylus, Agamemnon, 938. Earliest reference. Also in Sophocles—Trachiniæ, and Œdipus Tyrannus.
  • But when the sun in all his state,
    Illumed the eastern skies,
    She passed through glory's morning gate,
    And walked in Paradise.
  • Somewhere, in desolate, wind-swept space,
    In twilight land, in no man's land,
    Two hurrying shapes met face to face
    And bade each other stand.
    "And who are you?" cried one, a-gape,
    Shuddering in the glimmering light.
    "I know not," said the second shape,
    "I only died last night."
  • The white sail of his soul has rounded
    The promontory—death.
  • Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before,
    Advanced a stage or two upon that road
    Which you must travel in the steps they trod.
  • He who died at Azan sends
    This to comfort all his friends:
    Faithful friends! It lies I know
    Pale and white and cold as snow;
    And ye say, "Abdallah's dead!"
    Weeping at the feet and head.
    I can see your falling tears,
    I can hear your sighs and prayers;
    Yet I smile and whisper this:
    I am not the thing you kiss.
    Cease your tears and let it lie;
    It was mine—it is not I.
  • Her cabin'd ample spirit,
    It fluttered and fail'd for breath;
    Tonight it doth inherit
    The vasty hall of death.
  • Pompa mortis magis terret quam mors ipsa.
    The pomp of death alarms us more than death itself.
  • It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
  • What then remains, but that we still should cry
    Not to be born, or being born to die.
  • So fades a summer cloud away;
    So sinks the gale when storms are o'er;
    So gently shuts the eye of day;
    So dies a wave along the shore.
  • To die would be an awfully big adventure.
  • Death hath so many doors to let out life.
  • We must all die!
    All leave ourselves, it matters not where, when,
    Nor how, so we die well; and can that man that does so
    Need lamentation for him?
    • John Fletcher, Valentinian (1610–14; published 1647), Act IV, scene 4.
  • How shocking must thy summons be, O Death!
    To him that is at ease in his possessions:
    Who, counting on long years of pleasure here,
    Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come!
  • Sure 'tis a serious thing to die! My soul!
    What a strange moment must it be, when, near
    Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulf in view!
    That awful gulf, no mortal e'er repass'd
    To tell what's doing on the other side.
  • 'Tis long since Death had the majority.
    • Robert Blair, The Grave, line 451. Please "The Great Majority" found in Plautus. Trinium, II. 214.
  • Beyond the shining and the shading
    I shall be soon.
    Beyond the hoping and the dreading
    I shall be soon.
    Love, rest and home—
    Lord! tarry not, but come.
  • Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead.
  • Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead. Quoted from Job, XIV. 1.
  • In the midst of life we are in death.
    • Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead. Media vita in morte sumus. From a Latin antiphon. Found in the choirbook of the monks of St. Gall. Said to have been composed by Notker ("The Stammerer") in 911, while watching some workmen building a bridge at Martinsbrücke, in peril of their lives. Luther's antiphon "De Morte." Hymn XVIII is taken from this.
  • 'Mid youth and song, feasting and carnival,
    Through laughter, through the roses, as of old
    Comes Death, on shadowy and relentless feet
    Death, unappeasable by prayer or gold;
    Death is the end, the end.
    Proud, then, clear-eyed and laughing, go to greet
    Death as a friend!
  • Oh! death will find me, long before I tire
    Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
    Into the shade and loneliness and mire
    Of the last land!
  • Pliny hath an odd and remarkable Passage concerning the Death of Men and Animals upon the Recess or Ebb of the Sea.
  • For I say, this is death and the sole death,
    When a man's loss comes to him from his gain,
    Darkness from light, from knowledge ignorance,
    And lack of love from love made manifest.
  • Sustained and soothed
    By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
    Like one that wraps the drapery of his couch
    About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
  • All that tread
    The globe are but a handful to the tribes
    That slumber in its bosom.
  • So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded
    For him on the other side.
    • John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress. Death of Valiant for Truth. Close of Part II.
  • Die Todten reiten schnell.
    The dead ride swiftly.
    • Gottfried Bürger, Leonore.
  • But, oh! fell Death's untimely frost,
    That nipt my flower sae early.
  • There is only rest and peace
    In the city of Surcease
    From the failings and the waitings 'neath the sun,
    And the wings of the swift years
    Beat but gently o'er the biers
    Making music to the sleepers every one.
  • They do neither plight nor wed
    In the city of the dead,
    In the city where they sleep away the hours.
  • We wonder if this can be really the close,
    Life's fever cooled by death's trance;
    And we cry, though it seems to our dearest of foes,
    "God give us another chance."
  • Oh, God! it is a fearful thing
    To see the human soul take wing
    In any shape, in any mood!
  • Down to the dust!—and, as thou rott'st away,
    Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay.
  • Brougham delivered a very warm panegyric upon the ex-Chancellor, and expressed a hope that he would make a good end, although to an expiring Chancellor death was now armed with a new terror.
  • And I still onward haste to my last night;
    Time's fatal wings do ever forward fly;
    So every day we live, a day we die.
  • His religion, at best, is an anxious wish; like that of Rabelais, "a great Perhaps."
  • Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
    Illuc unde negant redire quemquam.
    Who now travels that dark path from whose bourne they say no one returns.
  • Soles occidere et redire possunt;
    Nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
    Nox est perpetua una dormienda.
    Suns may set and rise; we, when our short day has closed, must sleep on during one neverending night.
  • When death hath poured oblivion through my veins,
    And brought me home, as all are brought, to lie
    In that vast house, common to serfs and thanes,—
    I shall not die, I shall not utterly die,
    For beauty born of beauty—that remains.
  • It singeth low in every heart,
    We hear it each and all,—
    A song of those who answer not,
    However we may call;
    They throng (he silence of the breast,
    We see them as of yore,—
    The kind, the brave, the true, the sweet,
    Who walk with us no more.
  • Ex vita discedo, tanquam ex hospitio, non tanquam ex domo.
    I depart from life as from an inn, and not as from my home.
  • Emori nolo: sed me esse mortuum nihil æstimo.
    Translation: I do not wish to die: but I care not if I were dead.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 8. translation of verse of Epicharmus.
  • Vetat dominans ille in nobis deus, injussu hinc nos suo demigrare.
    The divinity who rules within us, forbids us to leave this world without his command.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 30.
  • Undique enim ad inferos tantundem viæ est.
    There are countless roads on all sides to the grave.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 43.
  • Supremus ille dies non nostri extinctionem sed commutationem affert loci.
    That last day does not bring extinction to us, but change of place.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 49.
  • Some men make a womanish complaint that it is a great misfortune to die before our time. I would ask what time? Is it that of Nature? But she, indeed, has lent us life, as we do a sum of money, only no certain day is fixed for payment. What reason then to complain if she demands it at pleasure, since it was on this condition that you received it.
  • Omnia mors æquat.
    Death levels all things.
  • Mors sceptra ligonibus æquat.
    • Inscribed over a 14th Century mural painting once at Battle Church, Sussex. Included in the 12th Century Vers sur la Mort. Ascribed to Thibaut de Marly. Also the motto of one of Symeoni's emblematic devices. See Notes and Queries (May, 1917), p. 134.
  • Death comes with a crawl or he comes with a pounce,
    And whether he's slow, or spry,
    It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
    But only, how did you die?
  • Qui ne craint point la mort ne craint point les menaces.
    He who does not fear death cares naught for threats.
  • O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
    • I Corinthians, XV. 55.
  • Ut non ex vita, sed ex domo in domum videretur migrare.
    So that he seemed to depart not from life, but from one home to another.
  • All flesh is grass, and all its glory fades
    Like the fair flower dishevell'd in the wind;
    Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream;
    The man we celebrate must find a tomb,
    And we that worship him, ignoble graves.
  • All has its date below; the fatal hour
    Was register'd in Heav'n ere time began.
    We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works
    Die too.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book V, The Winter Morning Walk, line 540.
  • Life, that dares send
    A challenge to his end,
    And when it comes, say, "Welcome, friend!"
  • We are born, then cry,
    We know not for why,
    And all our lives long
    Still but the same song.
    • Nathaniel Crouch (attributed), in Fly Leaves (pub. 1854), taken from Bristol Drollery (1674).
  • Round, round the cypress bier
    Where she lies sleeping,
    On every turf a tear,
    Let us go weeping!
    Wail!
  • And though mine arm should conquer twenty worlds,
    There's a lean fellow beats all conquerors.
  • I expressed just now my mistrust of what is called Spiritualism—… I owe it a trifle for a message said to come from Voltaire's Ghost. It was asked, "Are you not now convinced of another world?" and rapped out, "There is no other world—Death is only an incident in Life."
  • Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
    For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poor Death.
  • One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
  • Welcome, thou kind deceiver!
    Thou best of thieves! who, with an easy key,
    Dost open life, and, unperceived by us,
    Even steal us from ourselves.
  • Death in itself is nothing; but we fear
    To be we know not what, we know not where.
  • So was she soon exhaled, and vanished hence;
    As a sweet odour, of a vast expense.
    She vanished, we can scarcely say she died.
    • John Dryden, Elegiacs, To the Memory of Mrs. Anne Killegrew, line 303.
  • Of no distemper, of no blast he died,
    But fell like autumn fruit that mellow'd long.
  • Heaven gave him all at once; then snatched away,
    Ere mortals all his beauties could survey;
    Just like the flower that buds and withers in a day.
  • He was exhal'd; his great Creator drew
    His spirit, as the sun the morning dew.
    • John Dryden, On the Death of a Very Young Gentleman, line 25.
  • Like a led victim, to my death I'll go,
    And dying, bless the hand that gave the blow.
    • John Dryden, The Spanish Friar, Act II, scene 1, line 64.
  • She'l bargain with them; and will giue
    Them GOD; teach them how to liue
    In him; or if they this deny,
    For him she'l teach them how to Dy.
  • The grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.
  • If we could know
    Which of us, darling, would be first to go,
    Who would be first to breast the swelling tide
    And step alone upon the other side—
    If we could know!
  • He thought it happier to be dead,
    To die for Beauty, than live for bread.
  • But learn that to die is a debt we must all pay.
    • Euripides, Alcestis, 418. Also Andromache, 1,271.
  • Out of the strain of the Doing,
    Into the peace of the Done;
    Out in the thirst of Pursuing,
    Into the rapture of Won.
    Out of grey mist into brightness,
    Out of pale dusk into Dawn—
    Out of all wrong into rightness,
    We from these fields shall be gone.
    "Nay," say the saints, "Not gone but come,
    Into eternity's Harvest Home."
  • Sit the comedy out, and that done,
    When the Play's at an end, let the Curtain fall down.
  • Young Never-Grow-Old, with your heart of gold
    And the dear boy's face upon you;
    It is hard to tell, though we know it well,
    That the grass is growing upon you.
  • La montagne est passée; nous irons mieux.
    The mountain is passed; now we shall get on better.
  • Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure in life.
    • Charles Frohman, last words before he sank in the wreck of the Lusitania, torpedoed by the Germans (May 7, 1915). So reported by Rita Joliet.
  • Drawing near her death, she sent most pious thoughts as harbingers to heaven; and her soul saw a glimpse of happiness through the chinks of her sicknesse broken body.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy and the Profane State, Book I, Chapter II.
  • Had [Christ] the death of death to death
    Not given death by dying:
    The gates of life had never been
    To mortals open lying.
    • On the tombstone of Rev. Fyge, in the churchyard of Castle-Camps, Cambridgeshire.
  • To die is landing on some silent shore,
    Where billows never break nor tempests roar;
    Ere well we feel the friendly stroke 'tis o'er.
    • Sir Samuel Garth, The Dispensary (1699), Canto III, line 225.
  • The prince who kept the world in awe,
    The judge whose dictate fix'd the law;
    The rich, the poor, the great, the small,
    Are levell'd; death confounds 'em all.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), Part II. Fable 16.
  • Dead as a door nail.
    • John Gay, New Song of New Similes. Langland, Piers Ploughman, II, line 183. (1362). William of Palerne, Romance (About 1350), II Henry IV, Act V, scene 3. Deaf as a door nail. Rabelais, III. 34. translation. by Urquhart.
  • Where the brass knocker, wrapt in flannel band,
    Forbids the thunder of the footman's hand,
    The' upholder, rueful harbinger of death,
    Waits with impatience for the dying breath.
  • For dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return.
    • Genesis, III. 19.
  • What if thou be saint or sinner,
    Crooked gray-beard, straight beginner,—
    Empty paunch, or jolly dinner,
    When Death thee shall call.
    All alike are rich and richer,
    King with crown, and cross-legged stitcher,
    When the grave hides all.
  • None who e'er knew her can believe her dead;
    Though, should she die, they deem it well might be
    Her spirit took its everlasting flight
    In summer's glory, by the sunset sea,
    That onward through the Golden Gate is fled.
    Ah, where that bright soul is cannot be night.
  • Can storied urn or animated bust
    Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
    Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
    Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?
  • He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time:
    The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
    Where angels tremble while they gaze,
    He saw; but blasted with excess of light,
    Closed his eyes in endless night.
  • Fling but a stone, the giant dies.
  • When life is woe,
    And hope is dumb,
    The World says, "Go!"
    The Grave says, "Come!"
  • Death borders upon our birth; and our cradle stands in our grave.
  • Come to the bridal-chamber, Death!
    Come to the mother's, when she feels,
    For the first time, her first-born's breath!
    Come when the blessed seals
    That close the pestilence are broke,
    And crowded cities wail its stroke!
  • Ere the dolphin dies
    Its hues are brightest. Like an infant's breath
    Are tropic winds before the voice of death.
  • The ancients dreaded death: the Christian can only fear dying.
    • J. C. and A. W. Hare, Guesses at Truth.
  • And I hear from the outgoing ship in the bay
    The song of the sailors in glee:
    So I think of the luminous footprints that bore
    The comfort o'er dark Galilee,
    And wait for the signal to go to the shore,
    To the ship that is waiting for me.
  • On a lone barren isle, where the wild roaring billows
    Assail the stern rock, and the loud tempests rave,
    The hero lies still, while the dew-drooping willows,
    Like fond weeping mourners, lean over his grave.
    The lightnings may flash and the loud thunders rattle;
    He heeds not, he hears not; he's free from all pain.
    He sleeps his last sleep, he has fought his last battle;
    No sound can awake him to glory again!
  • Death rides on every passing breeze,
    He lurks in every flower.
  • Leaves have their time to fall,
    And flowers to wither at the north wind's breath,
    And stars to set—but all.
    Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death.
  • "Passing away" is written on the world and all the world contains.
  • What is Death
    But Life in act? How should the Unteeming Grave
    Be victor over thee,
    Mother, a mother of men?
  • So be my passing.
    My task accomplished and the long day done,
    My wages taken, and in my heart
    Some late lark singing,
    Let me be gathered to the quiet west,
    The sundown splendid and serene,
    Death.
  • So many are the deaths we die
    Before we can be dead indeed.
  • Into the everlasting lull,
    The immortal, incommunicable dream.
  • Not lost, but gone before.
    • Matthew Henry, Commentaries, Matthew II. Title of a song published in Smith's Edinburgh Harmony, 1829.
  • They are not amissi, but præmissi;
    Not lost but gone before.
    • Philip Henry, as quoted by Matthew Henry in his Life of Philip Henry.
  • Præmissi non amissi.
    • Inscription on a tombstone in Stallingborough Church, Lincolnshire, England. (1612).
  • Not lost but gone before.
    • Epitaph of Mary Angell in St. Dunstan's Church, Stephney, England. (1693).
  • Those that God loves, do not live long.
  • I know thou art gone to the home of thy rest—
    Then why should my soul be so sad?
    I know thou art gone where the weary are blest,
    And the mourner looks up, and is glad;
    I know thou hast drank of the Lethe that flows
    In a land where they do not forget,
    That sheds over memory only repose,
    And takes from it only regret.
  • And death makes equal the high and low.
  • (Mors, mortis morti mortem nisi morte dedisset [dedisses].)
    Death when to death a death by death hath given
    Then shall be op't the long shut gates of heaven.
    • Thomas Heywoode, Nine Bookes of various History concerning Women, Book II, of the Sybells.
  • Now I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
    • Thomas Hobbes. His reported last words. Hence "Hobbes' voyage," expression used by Vanbrugh in The Provoked Wife, Act V, scene 6.
  • How frighteningly few are the persons whose death would spoil our appetite and make the world seem empty.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: ‘Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely,'" The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 62.
  • The mossy marbles rest
    On the lips that he has pressed
    In their bloom;
    And the names he loved to hear
    Have been carved for many a year
    On the tomb.
  • And they die
    An equal death,—the idler and the man
    Of mighty deeds.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book IX, line 396. Bryant's translation.
  • He slept an iron sleep,—
    Slain fighting for his country.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XI, line 285. Bryant's translation.
  • It is not right to glory in the slain.
    • Homer, The Odyssey of Homer, trans. George H. Palmer (1929), book 22, line 412, p. 288. Another translation is: "It isn't right to gloat over the dead." Homer's Odyssey, trans. Denison B. Hull (1978), p. 252.
  • One more unfortunate
    Weary of breath,
    Rashly importunate,
    Gone to her death!
  • We watch'd her breathing thro' the night,
    Her breathing soft and low,
    As in her breast the wave of life
    Kept heaving to and fro.
    Our very hopes belied our fears,
    Our fears our hopes belied;
    We thought her dying when she slept,
    And sleeping when she died.
  • 'Tis after death that we measure men.
    • James Barron Hope, "Our Heroic Dead," A Wreath of Virginia Bay Leaves, ed. Janey Hope Marr, p. 71 (1895). As commander of the camp, he addressed the Confederate veterans on their first decoration day with this poem. Samuel A. Link, Pioneers of Southern Literature (1903), vol. 2, p. 423.
  • Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
    Regumque turres.
    Pale death, with impartial step, knocks at the hut of the poor and the towers of kings.
  • Omnes una manet nox,
    Et calcanda semel via leti.
    One night is awaiting us all, and the way of death must be trodden once.
  • Omnes eodem cogimur; omnium
    Versatur urna serius, ocius
    Sors exitura.
    We are all compelled to take the same road; from the urn of death, shaken for all, sooner or later the lot must come forth.
  • Omne capax movet urna nomen.
    In the capacious urn of death, every name is shaken.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 1. 16.
  • Cita mors ruit.
    Swift death rushes upon us.
    • Horace, adapted from Satire 1. 8.
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
    Sweet and glorious it is to die for our country.
    • Horace, Odes, book 3, ode 2, line 13. The Works of Horace, trans. J. C. Elgood (1893), p. 58. There have been various translations of this sentence, including that in the Modern Library edition, The Complete Works of Horace (1936), p. 217, "For country 'tis a sweet and seemly thing to die." Ernest Hemingway, "Notes on the Next War," Esquire, September 1935, p. 156, said, "They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying".
  • In the democracy of the dead all men at last are equal. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the republic of the grave.
    • John James Ingalls, eulogy on the death of Representative James N. Burnes, January 24, 1889, reported in A Collection of the Writings of John James Ingalls (1902), p. 273.
  • We all do fade as a leaf.
    • Isaiah. LXIV. 6.
  • The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
    • Job. I. 21.
  • He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
    • Job, VII. 10.
  • The land of darkness and the shadow of death.
    • Job. X. 21.
  • Then with no fiery throbbing pain,
    No cold gradations of decay,
    Death broke at once the vital chain,
    And freed his soul the nearest way.
    • Samuel Johnson, Verses on the Death of Mr. Robert Levet, Stanza 9. ("No fiery throbs of pain" in first edition).
  • Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in James Boswell, Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. George B. Hill, rev. and enl. ed., ed. L. F. Powell (1934), entry for September 19, 1777, vol. 3, p. 167.
  • Thou art but gone before,
    Whither the world must follow.
    • Ben Jonson, Epitaph on Sir John Roe, in Dodd's Epigrammatists, p. 190.
  • Mors sola fatetur
    Quantula sint hominum corpuscula.
    • Death alone discloses how insignificant are the puny bodies of men.
    • Juvenal, Satires, X. 172.
  • Trust to a plank, draw precarious breath,
    At most seven inches from the jaws of death.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XII. 57. Gifford's translation.
  • Nemo impetrare potest a papa bullam nunquam moriendi.
    No one can obtain from the Pope a dispensation for never dying.
  • Nay, why should I fear Death,
    Who gives us life, and in exchange takes breath?
  • When I have folded up this tent
    And laid the soiled thing by,
    I shall go forth 'neath different stars,
    Under an unknown sky.
  • Gone before
    To that unknown and silent shore.
  • One destin'd period men in common have,
    The great, the base, the coward, and the brave,
    All food alike for worms, companions in the grave.
  • And, as she looked around, she saw how Death, the consoler,
    Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it forever.
  • There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
    And with his sickle keen,
    He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
    And the flowers that grow between.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Reaper and the Flowers. Compare Arnim and Brentano—Erntelied, in Des Knaben Wunderhorn. (Ed. 1857), Volume I, p. 59.
  • There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
    This life of mortal breath
    Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
    Whose portal we call Death.
  • There is no flock, however watched and tended,
    But one dead lamb is there!
    There is no fireside howsoe'er defended,
    But has one vacant chair.
  • Oh, what hadst thou to do with cruel Death,
    Who wast so full of life, or Death with thee,
    That thou shouldst die before thou hadst grown old!
  • Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,
    A shadow on those features fair and thin;
    And softly, from the hushed and darkened room,
    Two angels issued, where but one went in.
  • Were a star quenched on high,
    For ages would its light,
    Still travelling downward from the sky,
    Shine on our mortal sight.
    So when a great man dies,
    For years beyond our ken,
    The light he leaves behind him lies
    Upon the paths of men.
  • J'avais cru plus difficile de mourir.
    I imagined it was more difficult to die.
    • Louis XIV, To Madame de Maintenon. See Martin, History of France, XIV, Book XCI.
  • But life is sweet, though all that makes it sweet
    Lessen like sound of friends' departing feet;
    And Death is beautiful as feet of friend
    Coming with welcome at our journey's end.
  • Victorosque dei celant, ut vivere durent felix esse mori.
    Translation: The gods conceal from those destined to live how sweet it is to die, that they may continue living.
  • Libera Fortunæ mors est; capit omnia tellus
    Quæ genuit.
    Death is free from the restraint of Fortune; the earth takes everything which it has brought forth.
  • Pavido fortique cadendum est.
    The coward and the courageous alike must die.
  • E mediis Orci faucibus ad hunc evasi modum.
    From the very jaws of death I have escaped to this condition.
  • Adde repertores doctrinarum atque leporum;
    Adde Heliconiadum comites; quorum unus Homerus
    Sceptra potitus, eadem aliis sopitu quiete est.
    Nay, the greatest wits and poets, too, cease to live;
    Homer, their prince, sleeps now in the same forgotten sleep as do the others.
  • The axe is laid unto the root of the trees.
    • Luke, III. 9.
  • To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late,
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers
    And the temples of his gods?
  • There is no such thing as death.
    In nature nothing dies.
    From each sad remnant of decay
    Some forms of life arise.
  • All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than the animals that know nothing.
  • Nascentes morimur, finiaque ab origine pendet.
    We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning.
  • Hic rogo non furor est ne moriare mori?
    This I ask, is it not madness to kill thyself in order to escape death?
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), II. 80. 2.
  • When the last sea is sailed and the last shallow charted,
    When the last field is reaped and the last harvest stored,
    When the last fire is out and the last guest departed
    Grant the last prayer that I shall pray, Be good to me, O Lord.
  • When Life knocks at the door no one can wait,
    When Death makes his arrest we have to go.
    • Masefield, Widow in the Bye Street, Part II.
  • She thought our good-night kiss was given,
    And like a lily her life did close;
    Angels uncurtain'd that repose,
    And the next waking dawn'd in heaven.
  • Death hath a thousand doors to let out life.
    I shall find one.
  • He whom the gods love dies young.
    • Menander, Dis Exapaton. Same in Dionysius, Ars Rhetorica, Volume V, p. 364. Reiske's Ed.
  • There's nothing certain in man's life but this:
    That he must lose it.
  • If I should die to-night,
    My friends would look upon my quiet face
    Before they laid it in its resting-place,
    And deem that death had left it almost fair.
  • Aujourd'hui si la mort n' existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer.
    Today if death did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
  • Death is delightful. Death is dawn,
    The waking from a weary night
    Of fevers unto truth and light.
  • O fairest flower; no sooner blown but blasted,
    Soft, silken primrose fading timelessly.
    • John Milton, Ode on the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough.
  • Nous sommes tous mortels, et chacun est pour soi.
    We are all mortal, and each one is for himself.
  • On n'a point pour la mort de dispense de Rome.
    Rome can give no dispensation from death.
  • La mort (dict on) nous acquitte de toutes nos obligations.
    Death, they say, acquits us of all obligations.
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays, Book I, Chapter 7. La mort est la recepte a touts maulx. Montaigne—Essays, Book II, Chapter III.
  • There's nothing terrible in death;
    'Tis but to cast our robes away,
    And sleep at night, without a breath
    To break repose till dawn of day.
  • Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb
    In life's happy morning hath hid from our eyes,
    Ere sin threw a blight o'er the spirit's young bloom
    Or earth had profaned what was born for the skies.
  • How short is human life! the very breath
    Which frames my words accelerates my death.
  • Be happy while y'er leevin,
    For y'er a lang time deid.
    • Scotch Motto for a house, in Notes and Queries, (December 7, 1901), p. 469. Expression used by Edgar Wilson Nye.
  • At end of Love, at end of Life,
    At end of Hope, at end of Strife,
    At end of all we cling to so—
    The sun is setting—must we go?

    At dawn of Love, at dawn of Life,
    At dawn of Peace that follows Strife,
    At dawn of all we long for so—
    The sun is rising—let us go.
  • There is rust upon locks and hinges,
    And mould and blight on the walls,
    And silence faints in the chambers,
    And darkness waits in the halls.
  • Two hands upon the breast,
    And labor's done;
    Two pale feet cross'd in rest,
    The race is won.
  • Xerxes the great did die;
    And so must you and I.
    • New England Primer (1814).
  • And die with decency.
  • Tendimus huc omnes; metam properamus ad unam. Omnia sub leges mors vocat atra suas.
    We are all bound thither; we are hastening to the same common goal. Black death calls all things under the sway of its laws.
    • Ovid, Ad Liviam, 359.
  • Stulte, quid est somnus, gelidæ nisi mortis imago?
    Longa quiescendi tempora fata dabunt.
    Thou fool, what is sleep but the image of death? Fate will give an eternal rest.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), II. 9. 41.
  • Ultima semper
    Expectanda dies homini est, dicique beatus
    Ante obitum nemo et suprema funera debet.
    Man should ever look to his last day, and no one should be called happy before his funeral.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, III. 135.
  • Nec mihi mors gravis est posituro morte dolores.
    Death is not grievous to me, for I shall lay aside my pains by death.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, III. 471.
  • Quocunque adspicias, nihil est nisi mortis imago.
    Wherever you look there is nothing but the image of death.
    • Ovid, Tristium, I. 2. 23.
  • Death's but a path that must be trod,
    If man would ever pass to God.
  • Death comes to all. His cold and sapless hand
    Waves o'er the world, and beckons us away.
    Who shall resist the summons?
  • O lady, he is dead and gone!
    Lady, he's dead and gone!
    And at his head a green grass turfe,
    And at his heels a stone.
  • For death betimes is comfort, not dismay,
    And who can rightly die needs no delay.
    • Petrarch, To Laura in Death. Canzone V, Stanza 6.
  • Nam vita morti propior est quotidie.
    For life is nearer every day to death.
  • Quem dii diligunt,
    Adolescens moritur, dum valet, sentit, sapit.
    He whom the gods love dies young, whilst he is full of health, perception, and judgment.
    • Plautus, Bacchides, Act IV. 7. 18.
  • Omnibus a suprema die eadem, quæ ante primum; nec magis a morte sensus ullus aut corpori aut animæ quam ante natalem.
    His last day places man in the same state as he was before he was born; nor after death has the body or soul any more feeling than they had before birth.
  • De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
    Concerning the dead nothing but good shall be spoken.
    • Plutarch, Life of Solon. Given as a saying of Solon. Attributed also to Chilo.
  • Come! let the burial rite be read—
    The funeral song be sung!—
    An anthem for the queenliest dead
    That ever died so young—
    A dirge for her, the doubly dead
    In that she died so young.
  • Out—out are the lights—out all!
    And, over each quivering form,
    The curtain, a funeral pall,
    Comes down with the rush of a storm,
    And the angels, all pallid and wan,
    Uprising, unveiling, affirm
    That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
    And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
  • Tell me, my soul! can this be death?
    • Alexander Pope, The Dying Christian to His Soul. Pope attributes his inspiration to Hadrian and to a Fragment of Sappho. See Croly's ed. of Pope. (1835). Thomas Flatman—Thoughts on Death, a similar paraphrase, pub. 1674, before Pope was born.
  • The world recedes; it disappears;
    Heav'n opens on my eyes; my ears
    With sounds seraphic ring:
    Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
    O Grave! where is thy victory?
    O Death! where is thy sting?
  • Vital spark of heavenly flame!
    Quit, oh quit this mortal frame.
  • By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
    By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
    By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
    By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd.
    • Alexander Pope, Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, line 51.
  • A heap of dust remains of thee;
    'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
    • Alexander Pope, Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, line 73.
  • Teach him how to live,
    And, oh! still harder lesson! how to die.
  • Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.
    • Proverbs, VI. 10; XXIV. 33.
  • I have said ye are gods … But ye shall die like men.
    • Psalms. LXXXII. 6. 7.
  • Death aims with fouler spite
    At fairer marks.
  • It is the lot of man but once to die.
  • Je m'en vais chercher un grand peut-être; tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée.
    I am going to seek a great perhaps; draw the curtain, the farce is played.
    • Attributed to Rabelais by tradition. From Motteux's Life of Rabelais. Quoted: "I am about to leap into the dark"; also Notice sur Rabelais in Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Paris, 1837.
  • Et l'avare Achéron ne lâche pas sa proie.
    And greedy Acheron does not relinquish its prey.
  • O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised: thou hast drawn together all the far stretchèd greatness, all the pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered it all over with those two narrow words, Hic jacet!
    • Sir Walter Raleigh, Historie of the World, Book V, Part I, Chapter VI.
  • Hushed in the alabaster arms of Death,
    Our young Marcellus sleeps.
  • Fort Very
    Belle, Fair, Elle She
    Dort. Sleeps.
    Sort Frame
    Frele, Frail, Quelle What a
    Mort! Death!
    Rose Rose
    Close, Close, La The
    Brise Breeze
    L'a Her
    Seized.
  • Der lange Schlaf des Todes schliesst unsere Narben zu, und der kutze des Lebens unsere Wunden.
    The long sleep of death closes our scars, and the short sleep of life our wounds.
  • Those that he loved so long and sees no more,
    Loved and still loves—not dead, but gone before,
    He gathers round him.
  • Sleep that no pain shall wake,
    Night that no morn shall break,
    Till joy shall overtake
    Her perfect peace.
  • There is no music more for him:
    His lights are out, his feast is done;
    His bowl that sparkled to the brim
    Is drained, is broken, cannot hold.
  • When I am dead, my dearest,
    Sing no sad songs for me;
    Plant thou no roses at my head,
    No shady cypress tree.
  • Je m'em vais voir le soleil pour la dernière fois.
    I go to see the sun for the last time.
    • Rousseau's last words.
  • Death is the privilege of human nature,
    And life without it were not worth our taking:
    Thither the poor, the pris'ner, and the mourner
    Fly for relief, and lay their burthens down.
    • Nicholas Rowe, The Fair Penitent (1703), Act V, scene 1, line 138.
  • Oh, stanch thy bootlesse teares, thy weeping is in vain;
    I am not lost, for we in heaven shall one day meet againe.
    • Raxburghe Ballads. The Bride's Buriall. Edited by Charles Hindley.
  • Out of the chill and the shadow,
    Into the thrill and the shine;
    Out of the dearth and the famine,
    Into the fulness divine.
  • Day's lustrous eyes grow heavy in sweet death.
  • Und setzet ihr nicht das Leben ein,
    Nie wird euch das Leben gewonnen sein.
    If you do not dare to die you will never win life.
  • Gut' Nacht, Gordon.
    Ich denke einen langen Schlaf zu thun.
    Good night, Gordon. I am thinking of taking a long sleep.
  • Haste thee, haste thee, to be gone!
    Earth flits fast and time draws on:
    Gasp thy gasp, and groan thy groan!
    Day is near the breaking.
  • Soon the shroud shall lap thee fast,
    And the sleep be on thee cast
    That shall ne'er know waking.
  • Like the dew on the mountain,
    Like the foam on the river,
    Like the bubble on the fountain,
    Thou art gone, and for ever!
    • Walter Scott, Lady of the Lake (1810), Canto III, Stanza 16.
  • I have a rendezvous with Death
    At some disputed barricade,
    When Spring comes back with rustling shade
    And apple-blossoms fill the air—
    I have a rendezvous with Death
    When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
    It may be he shall take my hand
    And lead me into his dark land
    And close my eyes and quench my breath—
    It may be I shall pass him still.
    I have a rendezvous with Death
    On some scarred slope of battered hill,
    When Spring comes round again this year
    And the first meadow-flowers appear.
    God knows ’twere better to be deep
    Pillowed in silk and scented down,
    Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
    Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
    Where hushed awakenings are dear …
    But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
    At midnight in some flaming town,
    When Spring trips north again this year,
    And I to my pledged word am true,
    I shall not fail that rendezvous.
    • Alan Seeger, I Have a Rendezvous with Death, Poems (1917), p. 144.
  • So die as though your funeral
    Ushered you through the doors that led
    Into a stately banquet hall
    Where heroes banqueted.
  • Quid est enim novi, hominem mori, cujus tota vita nihil aliud quam ad mortem iter est?
    What new thing then is it for a man to die, whose whole life is nothing else but a journey to death?
    • Seneca, De Consol. ad Polyb. 30.
  • Ultimum malorum est ex vivorum numero exire antequam moriaris.
    It is an extreme evil to depart from the company of the living before you die.
    • Seneca, De Tranquilitate Animi. 2.
  • Vivere nolunt, et mori nesciunt.
    They will not live, and do not know how to die.
  • Non amittuntur sed præmittuntur.
    They are not lost but sent before.
    • Seneca, Epistles, LXIII. 16. Early sources in Cyprian—De Mortalitate. S, XX.
  • Stultitia est timore mortis mori.
    It is folly to die of the fear of death.
  • Incertum est quo te loco mors expectet: itaque tu illam omni loco expecta.
    It is uncertain in what place death may await thee; therefore expect it in any place.
    • Seneca, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, XXVI.
  • Dies iste, quem tamquam extremum reformidas, æterni natalis est.
    This day, which thou fearest as thy last, is the birthday of eternity.
    • Seneca, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, CII.
  • Interim pœna est mori,
    Sed sæpe donum; pluribus veniæ fuit.
    Sometimes death is a punishment; often a gift; it has been a favor to many.
    • Seneca, Hercules Oetæus, CMXXX.
  • Eripere vitam nemo non homini potest;
    At nemo mortem; mille ad hanc aditus patent.
    Any one may take life from man, but no one death; a thousand gates stand open to it.
  • Optanda mors est, sine metu mortis mori.
    To die without fear of death is to be desired.
  • Death's pale flag advanced in his cheeks.
    • Seven Champions, Part III, Chapter XI.
  • The babe is at peace within the womb,
    The corpse is at rest within the tomb.
    We begin in what we end.
    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, Fragments. Same idea in Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia, p. 221. (St. John's ed).
  • First our pleasures die—and then
    Our hopes, and then our fears—and when
    These are dead, the debt is due,
    Dust claims dust—and we die too.
  • All buildings are but monuments of death,
    All clothes but winding-sheets for our last knell,
    All dainty fattings for the worms beneath,
    All curious music but our passing bell:
    Thus death is nobly waited on, for why?
    All that we have is but death's livery.
  • Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
  • The glories of our blood and state
    Are shadows, not substantial things;
    There is no armour against fate,
    Death lays his icy hand on kings.
    Scepter and crown
    Must tumble down,
    And, in the dust, be equal made
    With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
    • James Shirley, Contention of Ajax and Ulysses, scene 3. ("Birth and State" in Percy's Reliques. These lines are said to have terrified Cromwell).
  • He that on his pillow lies,
    Fear-embalmed before he dies
    Carries, like a sheep, his life,
    To meet the sacrificer's knife,
    And for eternity is prest,
    Sad bell-wether to the rest.
  • La mort sans phrase.
    Death without phrases.
    • Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, voting for the death of Louis XVI. (Denied by him). He no doubt voted "La mort"; "sans phrase" being a note on the laconic nature of his vote, i.e. without remarks. The voting usually included explanations of the decision.
  • Yet 'twill only be a sleep:
    When, with songs and dewy light,
    Morning blossoms out of Night,
    She will open her blue eyes
    'Neath the palms of Paradise,
    While we foolish ones shall weep.
  • We count it death to falter, not to die.
  • To our graves we walk
    In the thick footprints of departed men.
  • Your death and my death are mainly of importance to ourselves. The black plumes will be stripped off our hearses within the hour; tears will dry, hurt hearts close again, our graves grow level with the church-yard, and although we are away, the world wags on. It does not miss us; and those who are near us, when the first strangeness of vacancy wears off, will not miss us much either.
    • Alexander Smith, "Of Death and the Fear of Dying", Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country (1864, reprinted 1972), pp. 70–71.
  • Death! to the happy thou art terrible;
    But how the wretched love to think of thee,
    O thou true comforter! the friend of all
    Who have no friend beside!
  • Ave Cæsar, morituri te salutant (or Ave Imperator, te salutamus).
    Hail Cæsar, we who are about to die salute you (or Hail Emperor, we salute you).
    • Suetonius, Tiberius Claudius Drusus, XXI. 13. See Note by Samuelis Pitissus, Suetonius—Opera, Volume I, p. 678. (1714). The salutation of the gladiators on entering the arena. Morituri te salutant. Quoted by an American officer as he saluted the Statue of Liberty on leaving New York for his place in the Great War.
  • Death, if thou wilt, fain would I plead with thee:
    Canst thou not spare, of all our hopes have built,
    One shelter where our spirits fain would be
    Death, if thou wilt?
  • For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother,
    Take at my hands this garland and farewell.
    Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell,
    And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother.
  • And hands that wist not though they dug a grave,
    Undid the hasps of gold, and drank, and gave,
    And he drank after, a deep glad kingly draught:
    And all their life changed in them, for they quaffed
    Death; if it be death so to drink, and fare
    As men who change and are what these twain were.
  • On the mountains of memory, by the world's wellsprings,
    In all men's eyes,
    Where the light of the life of him is on all past things,
    Death only dies.
  • Honesta mors turpi vita potior.
    An honorable death is better than a dishonorable life.
  • As for myself, may the "sweet Muses," as Virgil says, bear me away to their holy places where sacred streams do flow, beyond the reach of anxiety and care, and free from the obligation of performing each day some task that goes against the grain. May I no longer have anything to do with the mad racket and the hazards of the forum, or tremble as I try a fall with white-faced Fame. I do not want to be roused from sleep by the clatter of morning callers or by some breathless messenger from the palace; I do not care, in drawing my will, to give a money-pledge for its safe execution through anxiety as to what is to happen afterwards; I wish for no larger estate than I can leave to the heir of my own free choice. Some day or other the last hour will strike also for me, and my prayer is that my effigy may be set up beside my grave, not grim and scowling, but all smiles and garlands, and that no one shall seek to honour my memory either by a motion in the senate or by a petition to the Emperor.
    • Tacitus, "A Dialogue on Oratory", section 13, Dialogus, Agricola, Germania, trans. William Peterson (1914), p. 51. Excerpts from this passage, in a different translation, were read at the funeral of Justice Hugo L. Black, September 28, 1971, as they were found underlined in his books and were said to be a favorite passage: "Let the sweet Muses lead me to their soft retreats, their living fountains, and melodious groves, where I may dwell remote from care, master of myself … let me no more be seen in the wrangling forum, a pale and odious candidate for precarious fame … let me live free from solicitude … and when nature shall give the signal to retire may I possess no more than I may bequeath to whom I will. At my funeral let no token of sorrow be seen, no pompous mockery of woe. Crown me with chaplets; strew flowers on my grave, and let my friends erect no vain memorial to tell where my remains are lodged." The Works of Tacitus, Oxford trans., rev., vol. 2, pp. 408–9 (1854). The reference to Virgil is to The Georgics, book 2, line 476.
  • Trust not your own powers till the day of your death.
  • Death is not rare, alas! nor burials few,
    And soon the grassy coverlet of God
    Spreads equal green above their ashes pale.
  • He that would die well must always look for death, every day knocking at the gates of the grave; and then the gates of the grave shall never prevail upon him to do him mischief.
  • But O! for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!
  • Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar
    When I put out to sea.
  • Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell
    When I embark.
  • For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crossed the bar.
  • The night comes on that knows not morn,
    When I shall cease to be all alone,
    To live forgotten, and love forlorn.
  • Whatever crazy sorrow saith,
    No life that breathes with human breath
    Has ever truly long'd for death.
  • Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace;
    Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,
    While the stars burn, the moons increase,
    And the great ages onward roll.
    Sleep till the end, true soul and sweet.
    Nothing comes to thee new or strange.
    Sleep full of rest from head to feet;
    Lie still, dry dust, secure of change.
    • Alfred Tennyson, "To J. S." [James Spedding], stanzas 18–19, The Poetic and Dramatic Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1899), p. 78.
  • Dead men bite not.
    • Theodotus, when counselling the death of Pompey. See Plutarch, Life of Pompey.
  • Et "Bene," discedens dicet, "placideque quiescas;
    Terraque securæ sit super ossa levis."
    And at departure he will say, "Mayest thou rest soundly and quietly, and may the light turf lie easy on thy bones."
  • I hear a voice you cannot hear,
    Which says, I must not stay;
    I see a hand you cannot see,
    Which beckons me away.
  • These taught us how to live; and (oh, too high
    The price for knowledge!) taught us how to die.
  • I believe if I should die,
    And you should kiss my eyelids where I lie
    Cold, dead, and dumb to all the world contains,
    The folded orbs would open at thy breath,
    And from its exile in the Isles of Death
    Life would come gladly back along my veins.
  • Say the report is exaggerated.
    • Mark Twain, "The Report of My Death," Mark Twain in Eruption, ed. Bernard De Voto (1940), pp. 252–53. In 1897, Twain was living in London where a cousin, Dr. Jim Clemens, fell ill. The newspapers, believing Twain was near death, sent reporters to investigate. Twain made his remark when the correspondent for the Evening Sun told him his death had been reported in New York, and asked what he should cable in reply. Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain (1912), vol. 2, chapter 197, p. 1039, gives a slightly different version of the story, ending, "Just say the report of my death has been grossly exaggerated." Often heard "… greatly exaggerated."
  • Go thou, deceased, to this earth which is a mother, and spacious and kind. May her touch be soft like that of wool, or a young woman, and may she protect thee from the depths of destruction. Rise above him, O Earth, do not press painfully on him, give him good things, give him consolation, as a mother covers her child with her cloth, cover thou him.
    • Vedic Funeral Rite. Quoted in New York Times on the death of "Buffalo Bill".
  • Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus.
    The supreme day has come and the inevitable hour.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), II. 324. Same in Lucan, VII. 197.
  • Vixi, et quem dederat cursum fortuna, peregi:
    Et nunc magna mei sub terras currit imago.
    I have lived, and I have run the course which fortune allotted me; and now my shade shall descend illustrious to the grave.
  • Irreameabilis unda.
    The wave from which there is no return [the river Styx].
  • Usque adeone mori miserum est?
    Is it then so sad a thing to die?
  • Decet imperatorem stantem mori.
    It becomes an emperor to die standing (i.e. "in harness").
    • Vespasian.
  • C'est demain, ma belle amie, que je fais le saut perilleux.
    It is today, my dear, that I take a perilous leap.
    • Last words of Voltaire, quoting the words of King Henry to Gabrielle d'Estrées, when about to enter the Catholic Church.
  • Le lâche fuit en vain; la mort vole à sa suite:
    C'est en la défiant que le brave l'évite.
    It is vain for the coward to flee; death follows close behind; it is only by defying it that the brave escape.
  • But God, who is able to prevail, wrestled with him, as the angel did with Jacob, and marked him; marked him for his own.
  • Softly his fainting head he lay
    Upon his Maker's breast;
    His Maker kiss'd his soul away,
    And laid his flesh to rest.
  • Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.
  • The tall, the wise, the reverend head,
    Must lie as low as ours.
    • Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II, Hymn 63.
  • I know death hath ten thousand several doors
    For men to take their exits.
  • I saw him now going the way of all flesh.
  • Like Moses to thyself convey,
    And kiss my raptur'd soul away.
  • Joy, shipmate, joy
    (Pleas'd to my soul at death I cry,)
    Our life is closed, our life begins,
    The long, long anchorage we leave,
    The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
    Joy, shipmate, joy!
  • O, I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me, as day cannot,
    I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death.
  • Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.
  • It is not the fear of death
    That damps my brow;
    It is not for another breath
    I ask thee now;
    I could die with a lip unstirred.
  • How beautiful it is for a man to die
    Upon the walls of Zion! to be called
    Like a watch-worn and weary sentinel,
    To put his armour off, and rest in heaven!
  • For I know that Death is a guest divine,
    Who shall drink my blood as I drink this wine;
    And he cares for nothing! a king is he—
    Come on, old fellow, and drink with me!
    With you I will drink to the solemn past,
    Though the cup that I drain should be my last.
  • But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,
    With his martial cloak around him.
  • If I had thought thou couldst have died
    I might not weep for thee;
    But I forgot, when by thy side,
    That thou couldst mortal be;
    It never through my mind had passed,
    That time would e'er be o'er
    When I on thee should look my last,
    And thou shouldst smile no more!
  • "But they are dead; those two are dead!
    Their spirits are in Heaven!"
    'Twas throwing words away; for still
    The little Maid would have her will,
    And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
  • He first deceased; she for a little tried
    To live without him, lik'd it not, and died.
    • Sir Henry Wotton, On the Death of Sir Albert Morton's Wife.
  • Men drop so fast, ere life's mid stage we tread,
    Few know so many friends alive, as dead.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • So fades a summer cloud away;
    So sinks the gale when storms are o'er;
    So gently shuts the eye of day;
    So dies a wave along the shore.
  • When we come to die, we shall be alone. From all our worldly possessions we shall be about to part. Worldly friends — the friends drawn to us by our position, our wealth, or our social qualities, — will leave us as we enter the dark valley. From those bound to us by stronger ties — our kindred, our loved ones, children, brothers, sisters, and from those not less dear to us who have been made our friends because they and we are the friends of the same Saviour, — from them also we must part. Yet not all will leave us. There is One who "sticketh closer than a brother" — One who having loved His own which are in the world loves them to the end.
  • What a power has Death to awe and hush the voices of this earth! How mute we stand when that presence confronts us, and we look upon the silence he has wrought in a human life! We can only gaze, and bow our heads, and creep with our broken, stammering utterances under the shelter of some great word which God has spoken, and in which we see through the history of human sorrow the outstretching and overshadowing of the eternal arms.
  • To the Christian, these shades are the golden haze which heaven's light makes, when it meets the earth, and mingles with its shadows.
  • And when no longer we can see Thee, may we reach out our hands, and find Thee leading us through death to immortality and glory.
  • So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our heads back on the bosom of Christ, and quietly fall asleep.
  • Dear brethren, our ship is sailing fast. We shall soon hear the rasping of the shallows, and the commotion overhead which bespeaks the port in view. When it comes to that, how will you feel? Are you a stranger, or a convict, or are you going home?
    Brethren, we are all sailing home; and by and by, when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), at midnight, will pass by, and will call us by name, and will say, "I have a message for you from home; God wants you; heaven waits for you."
  • How shocking must thy summons be, O Death!
    To him that is at ease in his possessions!
    Who, counting on long years of pleasure here,
    Is quite unfurnished for the world to come.
    In that dread moment, how the frantic soul
    Raves round the walls of her clay tenement;
    Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help;
    But shrieks in vain.
  • When I lived, I provided for every thing but death; now I must die, and am unprepared.
  • O Earth, so full of dreary noises!
    O men, with wailing in your voices!
    O delved gold, the waller's heap!
    O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
    God makes a silence through you all,
    And "giveth His beloved, sleep."
  • Dying visions of angels and Christ and God and heaven are confined to credibly good men. Why do not bad men have such visions? They die of all sorts of diseases; they have nervous temperaments; they even have creeds and hopes about the future which they cling to with very great tenacity; why do not they rejoice in some such glorious illusions when they go out of the world?
  • This character wherewith we sink into the grave at death is the very character wherewith we shall reappear at the resurrection.
  • Death, to a good man is but passing through a dark entry, out of one little dusky room of his Father's house into another that is fair and large, lightsome and glorious, and divinely entertaining.
  • How well he fell asleep!
    Like some proud river, widening toward the sea;
    Calmly and grandly, silently and deep,
    Life joined eternity.
  • Death is like thunder in two particulars; we are alarmed at the sound of it; and it is formidable only from that which preceded it.
  • The most heaven-like spots I have ever visited, have been certain rooms in which Christ's disciples were awaiting the summons of death. So far from being a "house of mourning," I have often found such a house to be a vestibule of glory.
  • Beloved in the Lord, if you only will lay hold of the Saviour's strength, and cast yourself entirely on His kind arms, with His dying grace He will do wonders for you in the dying hour. A great trembling may come upon you when you think of going down to tread the verge of Jordan: "for ye have not passed this way heretofore." But Jesus has; and you shall see His footprints on the shore. He will be your guide unto death, and through death.
  • Soon for me the light of day
    Shall forever pass away;
    Then from sin and sorrow free,
    Take me, Lord, to dwell with Thee.
  • He that always waits upon God is ready whenever He calls. Neglect not to set your accounts even; he is a happy man who to lives as that death at all times may find him at leisure to die.
  • I am not in the least surprised that your impression of death becomes more lively, in proportion as age and infirmity bring it nearer. God makes use of this rough trial to undeceive us in respect to our courage, to make us feel our weakness, and to keep us in all humility in His hands.
  • "Paid the debt of nature." No; it is not paying a debt; it is rather like bringing a note to the bank to obtain solid gold for it. In this case you bring this cumbrous body which is nothing worth, and which you could not wish to retain long; you lay it down, and receive for it from the eternal treasures — liberty, victory, knowledge, rapture.
  • Life's race well run,
    Life's work well done,
    Life's crown well won,
    Now comes rest.
    • Epitaph of President Garfield, p. 177.
  • We shall be in the midst of some great work, when the tools shall drop from our relaxing fingers, and we shall work no more; we shall be planning some mighty project — house, business, society, book — when in one shattering moment all our thoughts shall perish. Life shall seem strong in us when we shall find that it is done. Oh, how happy they to whom all that remains is immortality; happy you who have that confidence in the Saviour, that, although nature start at the sudden midnight cry, "The Bridegroom cometh!" faith shall answer, the moment that we remember who He is, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
  • All life is surrounded by a great circumference of death; but to the believer in Jesus, beyond this surrounding death is a boundless sphere of life. He has only to die once to be done with death forever.
  • Seek such union to the Son of God, as, leaving no present death within, shall make the second death impossible, and shall leave in all your future only that shadow of death which men call dissolution, and which the gospel calls sleeping in Jesus.
  • "Come and see how a Christian can die," said the dying sage to his pupil; how would it do to say, "Come and see how an infidel can die?" How would it have done for Voltaire to say this, who, in his panic at the prospect of eternity, offered his physician half his fortune for six weeks more of life?
  • And now, with busy, but noiseless process, the Comforter is giving the last finish to the sanctifying work, and making the heir of glory meet for home, till, at a signal given, the portal opens, and even the numb body feels the burst of blessedness as the rigid features smile and say, "I see Jesus," then leave tne vision pictured on the pale but placid brow.
  • When at last the angels come to convey your departing spirit to Abraham's bosom, depend upon it, however dazzling in their newness they may be to you, you will find that your history is no novelty, and you yourself no stranger to them.
  • Earth has one angel less, and heaven one more since yesterday. Already, kneeling at the throne, she has received her welcome, and is resting on the bosom of her Saviour.
  • Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death! —
  • And when, in the evening of life, the golden clouds rest sweetly and invitingly upon the golden mountains, and the light of heaven streams down through the gathering mists of death, I wish you a peaceful and abundant entrance into that world of blessedness, where the great riddle of life will be unfolded to you in the quick consciousness of a soul redeemed and purified.
  • When darkness gathers over all.
    And the last tottering pillars fall,
    Take the poor dust Thy mercy warms.
    And mould it into heavenly forms.
  • My friend, there will come one day to you a Messenger, whom you cannot treat with contempt. He will say, "Come with me;" and all your pleas of business cares and earthly loves will be of no avail. When his cold hand touches yours, the key of the counting-room will drop forever, and he will lead you away from all your investments, your speculations, your bank-notes and real estate, and with him you will pass into eternity, up to the bar of God. You will not be too busy to die.
  • What is our death but a night's sleep? For as through sleep all weariness and faintness pass away and cease, and the powers of the spirit come back again, so that in the morning we arise fresh and strong and joyous; so at the Last Day we shall rise again as if we had only slept a night, and shall be fresh and strong.
  • "God giveth His beloved sleep;" and in that peaceful sleep, realities, not dreams, come round their quiet rest, and fill their conscious spirits and their happy hearts with blessedness and fellowship. In His own time He will make the eternal morning dawn, and the hand that kept them in their slumbers shall touch them into waking, and shall clothe them when they arise according to the body of His own glory; and they, looking into His face, and flashing back its love, its light, its beauty, shall each break forth into singing as the rising light of that unsetting day touches their transfigured and immortal heads, in the triumphant thanksgiving, "I am satisfied, for I awake in Thy likeness."
  • If life has not made youby God's grace, through faith, holy — think you, will death, without faith do it? The cold waters of that narrow stream are no purifying bath in which you may wash and be clean. No! no! as you go down into them, you will come up from them.
  • O that we may all be living in such a state of preparedness, that, when summoned to depart, we may ascend the summit whence faith looks forth on all that Jesus hath suffered and done, and exclaiming, " We have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord," lie down with Moses on Pisgah, to awake with Moses in paradise.
  • No man who is fit to live need tear to die. Poor, timorous, faithless souls that we are! How we shall smile at our vain alarms when the worst has happened! To us here, death is the most terrible thing we know. But when we have tasted its reality, it will mean to us birth, deliverance, a new creation of ourselves. It will be what health is to the sick man. It will be what home is to the exile. It will be what the loved one given - back is to the bereaved. As we draw near to it, a solemn gladness should fill our hearts. It is God's great morning lighting up the sky. Our fears are the terror of children in the night. The night with its terrors, its darkness, its feverish dreams, is passing away; and when we awake, it will be into the sunlight of God.
  • Death cannot come To him untimely who is fit to die; The less of this cold world, the more of heaven; The briefer life, the earlier immortality.
  • Thus star by star declines
    Till all are passed away,
    As morning high and higher shines
    To pure and perfect day:
    Nor sink those stars in empty night;
    They hide themselves in heaven's pure light.
  • Yes, death, — the hourly possibility of it, — death is the sublimity of life.
  • Reflect on death as in Jesus Christ, not as without Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ it is dreadful, it is alarming, it is the terror of nature. In Jesus Christ it is fair and lovely, it is good and holy, it is the joy of saints.
  • Look forward a little further to the period when all the noise and tumult and business of this world shall have closed forever.
  • O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised; thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of men, and covered them all over with these two narrow words, "Hie jacet."
  • However dreary we may have felt life to be here, yet when that hour comes — the winding up of all things, the last grand rush of darkness on our spirits, the hour of that awful sudden wrench from all we have ever known or loved, the long farewell to sun, moon, stars, and light — brother man, I ask you this day, and I ask myself humbly and fearfully, "What will then be finished? When it is finished, what will it be? Will it be the butterfly existence of pleasure, the mere life of science, a life of uninterrupted sin and self-gratification, or will it be, 'Father, I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do?'"
  • Every day His servants are dying modestly and peacefully — not a word of victory on their lips; but Christ's deep triumph in their hearts — watching the slow progress of their own decay, and yet so far emancipated from personal anxiety that they are still able to think and plan for others, not knowing that they are doing any great thing. They die, and the world hears nothing of them; and yet theirs was the completest victory. They came to the battle field, the field to which they had been looking forward all their lives, and the enemy was not to be found. There was no foe to fight with.
  • Death is a stage in human progress, to be passed as we would pass from childhood to youth, or from youth to manhood, and with the same consciousness of an everlasting nature.
  • Tarry with me, O my Saviour!
    Lay my head upon Thy breast,
    Till the morning; then awake me —
    Morning of eternal rest.
  • Death is the waiting-room where we robe ourselves for immortality.
  • Love masters agony; the soul that seemed
    Forsaken feels her present God again
    And in her Father's arms
    Contented dies away.
  • Dead is she? No; rather let us call ourselves dead, who tire so soon in the service of the Master whom she has gone to serve forever.
  • I do not know why a man should be either regretful or afraid, as he watches the hungry sea eating away this "bank and shoal of time" upon which he stands, even though the tide has all but reached his feet — if he knows that God's strong hand will be stretched forth to him at the moment when the sand dissolves from under him, and will draw him out of many waters, and place him high above the floods on the stable land where there is "no more sea."
  • When you take the wires of the cage apart, you do not hurt the bird, but help it. You let it out of its prison. How do vou know that death does not help me when it takes the wires of my cage down? — that it does not release me, and put me into some better place, and better condition of life?
  • The world recedes; it disappears!
    Heaven opens on my eyes!
  • Do we not all, in this very hour, recall a death-bed scene in which some loved one has passed away? And, as we bring to mind the solemn reflections of that hour, are we not ready to hear and to heed the voice with which a dying wife once addressed him who stood sobbing by her side: "My dear husband, live for one thing, and only one thing; Just one thing, — the glory of God, the glory of God!"
  • One may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate; but he must die as a man.
  • Mysterious Night! When our first parent knew
    Thee from report Divine, and heard thy name,
    Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
    This glorious canopy of light and blue?
    Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
    Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
    Hesperus, with the host of heaven came;
    And lo! creation widened in man's view.
    Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
    Within thy beams, O sun? or who could find,
    While fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
    That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind?
    Why do we then shun death with anxious strife?
    If light can thus deceive, wherefore not life?

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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