QUOTATIONS ON DEATH & DYING

Death not merely ends life, it also bestows upon it a silent completeness,
snatched from the hazardous flux to which all things human are subject.
Hannah Arend (1906–75)
German-born U.S. political philosopher
~~~
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
English philosopher, essayist, statesman
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To die is but to leave off dying and do the thing once for all.
Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
English author

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It is not death, but dying, which is terrible.
Henry Fielding (1707-54),
English novelist, dramatist

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Death is a shadow that always follows the body.
English Proverb (14th century)
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The world is the mirror of myself dying
Henry Miller (1891-1980)
U.S. author

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Dying is something we human beings do continuously,
not just at the end of our physical lives on this earth.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (b. 1926),
Swiss-born U.S. psychiatrist

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And all the winds go sighing, For sweet things dying.
Christina Rossetti (1830-94),
English , lyricist

~~~
Death destroys a man: the idea of Death saves him.
E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
British novelist, essayist

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Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
Matthew Arnold (1822-88)
English poet, critic
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Just like those who are incurably ill,
the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.
Philip Roth (b. 1933)
U.S. novelist
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Death is a Dialogue between, The Spirit and the Dust.
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
U.S. poet
~~~
In the attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life,
for the two are inextricably related.
Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other.
Henry Miller (1891-1980)
U.S. author
~~~
He had been, he said, an unconscionable time dying; but he hoped that they would excuse it.
Charles II
King of England (1630-85)
~~~
"For ‘tis not in mere death that men die most."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61),
English poet
~~~
We are all of us resigned to death: it’s life we aren’t resigned to.
Graham Greene (1904-91),
British novelist
~~~
It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
English philosopher, essayist, statesman
~~~
It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar.
In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (b. 1926)
Swiss-born U.S. psychiatri
st
~~~
The final hour when we cease to exist does not itself bring death;
it merely of itself completes the death-process.
We reach death at that moment, but we have been a long time on the way.
Seneca (c. 5 B.C.- A.D. c. 65)
Roman writer, philosopher, statesman

~~~
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
George Eliot (1819-80)
English novelist

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There is nothing which at once affects a man so much and so little as his own death.
Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
English author

~~~
Some dying men are the most tyrannical; and certainly, since they will shortly trouble us
so little forevermore, the poor fellows ought to be indulged.
Herman Melville (1819-91)
U.S. author

~~~
I’m not afraid of death but I am afraid of dying.
Pain can be alleviated by morphine but the pain of social ostracism cannot be taken away.
Derek Jarman (b. 1942)
British filmmaker, artist, author
~~~
He that dies pays all debts.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
English dramatist, poet

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To die will be an awfully big adventure.
J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)
British playwright

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We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.
Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82)
English doctor, author

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Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas (1914-53)
Welsh poet

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Along with the lazy man . . . the dying man is the immoral man:
the former, a subject that does not work;
the latter, an object that no longer even makes itself available
to be worked on by others.
Michel de Certeau (1925-1986)
~~~
I’m trying to die correctly, but it’s very difficult, you know.
Lawrence Durrell (1912-90)
~~~
Dying is the most embarrassing thing that can ever happen to you,
because someone’s got to take care of all your details.
Andy Warhol (1928-87)
U.S. pop artist

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The grave’s a fine and private place,But none, I think, do there embrace.
Andrew Marvell (1621-78)
English poet
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Like pilgrims to th’appointed place we tend;The world’s an inn, and death the journey’s end.
John Dryden (1631-1700)
English poet, dramatist, critic

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Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I’ve a call.
Sylvia Plath (1932-63)
U.S. poet.

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It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death
should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Anglo-Irish satirist.

~~~
It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death doesn’t matter."
There is death. And whatever is matters.
And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible.
You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963),
British author.

~~~
No one’s death comes to pass without making some impression,and those close to the deceased
inherit part of the liberated soul and become richer in their humaneness.
Hermann Broch (1886-1951)
Austrian novelist

~~~
We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream;
it may be so the moment after death.
N
athaniel Hawthorne (1804-64)
U.S. author

~~~
Death not merely ends life, it also bestows upon it a silent completeness,
snatched from the hazardous flux to which all things human are subject.
Hannah Arendt (1906-75)
~~~
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent, A day’s march nearer home.
J
ames Montgomery (1771-1854)
English poet.

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In any man who dies there dies with him, his first snow and kiss and fight . . .
Not people die but worlds die in them.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (b. 1933)
Russian poet

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If I had my life over again I should form the habit
of nightly composing myself to thoughts of death.
I would practise, as it were, the remembrance of death.
There is no other practice which so intensifies life.
Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise.
It should be part of the full expectancy of life.
Without an ever-present sense of death life is insipid.
You might as well live on the whites of eggs.
Muriel Spark (b. 1918)
British novelist

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Well, there’s a remedy for all things but death,
which will be sure to lay us flat one time or other.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Spanish writer

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Good God! how often are we to die before we go quite off this stage?
In every friend we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
English satirical poet

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Death never takes the wise man by surprise, He is always ready to go.
Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95),
French poet, fabulist
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Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.
Dylan Thomas (1914-53), Welsh poet
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Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.
J
ean Cocteau (1889-1963)
French author, filmmaker

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The difficulty about all this dying, is that you can’t tell a fellow anything about it,
so where does the fun come in?
Alice James (1848-92)
U.S. diarist
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To die is poignantly bitter,
but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
U.S. psychologist
~~~
Dying is a troublesome business: there is pain to be suffered,
and it wrings one’s heart; but death is a splendid thing
a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again, a triumph.
You can always see that in their faces.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Anglo-Irish playwright, critic

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The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative,
if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation.
Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)
German novelist, poet

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Teach me to live that I may dread,The grave as little as my bed.
Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
English churchman, hymn-writer
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A man does not die of love or his liver or even of old age; he dies of being a man.
P
ercival Arland Ussher (1899-1980)
Irish author, critic

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When one by one our ties are torn, And friend from friend is snatched forlorn;
When man is left alone to mourn, Oh! then how sweet it is to die!
Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825)
English author

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Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart:
eyes that see not by reacting to light,
but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life.
Thomas Merton (1915-68)
U.S. religious writer, poet

~~~
Thank Heaven! the crisis - The danger, is past, And the lingering illness, Is over at last,
And the fever called "Living" Is conquered at last.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-45)
U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer

~~~
When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.
John Donne (c. 1572-1631)
English divine, metaphysical poet
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For the sword outwears its sheath, And the soul wears out the breast.
And the heart must pause to breathe, And love itself have rest.
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
English poet

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Your body must become familiar with its death in all its possible forms and degrees
as a self-evident, imminent, and emotionally neutral step
on the way towards the goal you have found worthy of your life.
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-61)
Swedish statesman, Secretary-General of U.N.
~~~
A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
British author

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The course of my long life hath reached at last In fragile bark o’er a tempestuous sea
The common harbor, where must rendered be Account for all the actions of the past.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
U.S. poet

~~~
To be seventy years old is like climbing the Alps.
You reach a snow-crowned summit, and see behind you the deep valley
stretching miles and miles away, and before you other summits higher and whiter,
which you may have strength to climb, or may not.
Then you sit down and meditate and wonder which it will be.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us, Footprints on the sand of time.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
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Thy fate is the common fate of all; Into each life some rain must fall.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
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The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries. And perhaps it would be well for our race if the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Man were as inevitable as the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Nature—were Man as unerring in his judgments as Nature.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
***Many readers judge of the power of a book by the shock it gives their feelings
as some savage tribes determine the power of muskets by their recoil;
that being considered best which fairly prostrates the purchaser.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
*Men of genius are often dull and inert in society;
as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
*Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
***Age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
***Oh, fear not in a world like this, And thou shalt know erelong,
Know how sublime a thing it isTo suffer and be strong.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
~~~
Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, To some good angel leave the rest;
For Time will teach thee soon the truth, There are no birds in last year’s nest!
H
enry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)

Life does not cease to be funny when people die
any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Anglo-Irish playwright, critic


Since the death instinct exists in the heart of everything that lives,
since we suffer from trying to repress it, since everything that lives longs for rest,
let us unfasten the ties that bind us to life,
let us cultivate our death wish, let us develop it, water it like a plant,
let it grow unhindered.
Suffering and fear are born from the repression of the death wish.
Eugène Ionesco (1912-94)
Rumanian-born French playwright

~~~
We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast,
but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future.
It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun
or that death could arrive this same afternoon,
this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
French novelist

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Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearences.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55)
Danish philosopher

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One approaches the journey’s end. But the end is a goal, not a catastrophe.
George Sand (1804-76),
French novelist

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Death is the veil which those who live call life: They sleep, and it is lifted.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822),
English poet

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Land and sea, weakness and decline are great separators, but death is the great divorcer for ever.
J
ohn Keats (1795-1821),
English poet

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Ignore death up to the last moment; then, when it can’t be ignored any longer,
have yourself squirted full of morphia and shuffle off in a coma.
Thoroughly sensible, humane and scientific, eh?
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963),
British author

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How gladly would I meet, Mortality, my sentence, 
and be earth, Insensible!
How glad would lay me down, As in my mother’s lap! 
There I should rest, And sleep secure.
John Milton (1608-74),   ~  English poet
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We are all dead men on leave.
Eugene Leviné, Russian Jew,
~~~
A person doesn’t die when he should but when he can.
Gabriel García Márquez (b. 1928)84
~~~
But what is all this fear of and opposition to Oblivion?
What is the matter with the soft Darkness, the Dreamless Sleep?
James Thurber (1894-1961)
U.S. humorist, illustrator

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But I will be, A bridegroom in my death, and run into’t As to a lover’s bed.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
English dramatist, poet

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At birth man is offered only one choice, the choice of his death.
But if this choice is governed by distaste for his own existence,
his life will never have been more than meaningless.
Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-73)
French film director

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As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say, The breath goes now, and some say no.
John Donne (c. 1572-1631),
English divine, metaphysical poet

~~~
Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (b. 1926),
Swiss-born U.S. psychiatrist

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The dignity to be sought in death is the appreciation by others of what one has been in life,. . .
that proceeds from a life well lived and from the acceptance of one’s own death
as a necessary process of nature. . .. It is also the recognition
that the real event taking place at the end of our life is our death, not the attempts to prevent it.
Sherwin B. Nuland (b. 1930)
U.S. surgeon, author
~~~
If Nature denies eternity to beings, it follows that their destruction is one of her laws.
Now, once we observe that destruction is so useful to her that she absolutely cannot dispense with it . . .
from this moment onward the idea of annihilation which we attach to death ceases to be real . . .
what we call the end of the living animal is no longer a true finis, but a simple transformation,
a transmutation of matter. According to these irrefutable principles,
death is hence no more than a change of form, an imperceptible passage from one existence into another.
Marquis de Sade (1740-814)
French author

~~~
Death cancels everything but truth; and strips a man of everything but genius and virtue.
It is a sort of natural canonization. It makes the meanest of us sacred—
it installs the poet in his immortality, and lifts him to the skies.
Death is the greatest assayer of the sterling ore of talent. At his touch the drossy particles fall off,
the irritable, the personal, the gross, and mingle with the dust—
The finer and more ethereal part mounts with winged spirit to watch over our latest memory,
and protect our bones from insult. We consign the least worthy qualities to oblivion,
and cherish the nobler and imperishable nature with double pride and fondness.
William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
English essayist
~~~


~~~
As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence,
I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind,
that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling!
And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity . . .
of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
Austrian composer

~~~
When I have fears that I may cease to be,Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.
John Keats (1795-1821)
English poet

~~~
In my end is my beginning.
Mary Stuart (1542-87)
Queen of Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots) (1542-67).
Motto embroidered by herself on her canopy of state,
while a prisoner of Elizabeth I of England.
Elizabeth eventually ordered Mary’s execution after a captivity lasting almost twenty years.
~~~
Life is a series of diminishments.
Each cessation of an activity either from choice or some other variety of infirmity is a death,
a putting to final rest. Each loss, of friend or precious enemy, can be equated
with the closing off of a room containing blocks of nerves . . . and soon after the closing off
the nerves atrophy and that part of oneself, in essence, drops away.
The self is lightened, is held on earth by a gram less of mass and will.
Coleman Dowell (1925-85)
U.S. novelist, dramatist, lyricist
~~~
I would not that death should take me asleep.
I would not have him merely seize me, and only declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me.
When I must shipwrack, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotencie might have some excuse;
not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming.
John Donne (c. 1572-1631)
English divine, metaphysical poet

~~~
Death eats up all things, both the young lamb and old sheep;
and I have heard our parson say, death values a prince no more than a clown;
all’s fish that comes to his net; he throws at all, and sweeps stakes;
he’s no mower that takes a nap at noon-day, but drives on, fair weather or foul,
and cuts down the green grass as well as the ripe corn: he’s neither squeamish nor queesy-stomach’d,
for he swallows without chewing, and crams down all things into his ungracious maw;
and tho’ you can see no belly he has, he has a confounded dropsy, and thirsts after men’s lives,
which he guggles down like mother’s milk.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Spanish writer

~~~
If you wish to make a man look noble, your best course is to kill him.
What superiority he may have inherited from his race,
what superiority nature may have personally gifted him with, comes out in death.
Alexander Smith (1830-67)
Scottish poet

~~~
When it comes to my own turn to lay my weapons down, I shall do so with thankfulness and fatigue,
and whatever be my destiny afterward, I shall be glad to lie down with my fathers in honour.
It is human at least, if not divine.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94)
Scottish novelist, essayist, poet

~~~
A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.
Alexander Smith (1830-67)
Scottish poet

~~~
Immortal mortals, mortal immortals, one living the others’ death and dying the others’ life.
Heraclitus (c. 535-c. 475 B.C.)
Greek philosopher

~~~
At great periods you have always felt, deep within you, the temptation to commit suicide.
You gave yourself to it, breached your own defenses. You were a child.
The idea of suicide was a protest against life; by dying, you would escape this longing for death.
Cesare Pavese (1908-50)
Italian poet, novelist, translator
~~~
We achieve "active" mastery over illness and death
by delegating all responsibility for their management to physicians,
and by exiling the sick and the dying to hospitals.
But hospitals serve the convenience of staff not patients:
we cannot be properly ill in a hospital, nor die in one decently;
we can do so only among those who love and value us.
The result is the institutionalized dehumanization of the ill, characteristic of our age.
Thomas Szasz (b. 1920)
U.S. psychiatrist

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