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Quotations about Death
Día de Muertos
God pours life into death and death into life without a drop being spilled. ~Author Unknown
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die" — a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live. ~Mark Twain
I'm not afraid of death. It's the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life. ~Jean Giraudoux, Amphitryon, 1929
All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing. ~Maurice Maeterlinck
To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead. ~Samuel Butler
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever. ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Gaily I lived as ease and nature taught,
And spent my little life without a thought,
And am amazed that Death, that tyrant grim,
Should think of me, who never thought of him.
~René Francois Regnier
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain
We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death. ~David Sarnoff
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, Essays
If you spend all your time worrying about dying, living isn't going to be much fun. ~From the television show Roseanne
Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live. ~Henry Van Dyke
He who doesn't fear death dies only once. ~Giovanni Falcone
People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. ~Marcel Proust
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
A man does not die of love or his liver or even of old age; he dies of being a man. ~Percival Arland Ussher
The idea is to die young as late as possible. ~Ashley Montagu
'Tis very certain the desire of life prolongs it. ~Lord Byron
No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow. ~Euripides
Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1945
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. ~Leonardo Da Vinci
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it. ~Alice Walker
I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived. ~Willa Cather
Death is a distant rumor to the young. ~Andrew A. Rooney
A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own. ~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
There are so many little dyings that it doesn't matter which of them is death. ~Kenneth Patchen
If man were immortal he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted should betray his trust, and, in short, of coming eventually to hopeless misery. He would break down, at last, as every good fortune, as every dynasty, as every civilization does. In place of this we have death. ~Charles Sanders Peirce
Death, the sable smoke where vanishes the flame. ~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
God himself took a day to rest in, and a good man's grave is his Sabbath. ~John Donne
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. ~Seneca
Years, following years, steal something every day;
At last they steal us from ourselves away.
Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ~Albert Einstein
Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. ~Socrates
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, "People"
Death never takes the wise man by surprise; He is always ready to go. ~Jean de La Fontaine
Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time. ~Attributed to George Carlin
As o'er the stormy sea of human Life
We sail, until our anchor'd spirits rest
In the far haven of Eternity,...
~Robert Montgomery, "A Universal Prayer," A Universal Prayer; Death; A Vision of Heaven; and A Vision of Hell; &c. &c., 1829
Death does not wait to see if things are done or not done. ~Kularnava
Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death. ~Erik H. Erikson
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. ~Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky
Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men. ~Herodotus
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
Thou art not dead! Thou art the whole
Of life that quickens in the sod.
~Charles Hanson Towne
Time rushes towards us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation. ~Tennessee Williams, "The Rose Tattoo"
We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael
From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity. ~Edvard Munch
There's nothing certain in a man's life except this: That he must lose it. ~Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins
The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive — perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
Let life be as beautiful as summer flowers
And death as beautiful as autumn leaves.
Death is a debt we all must pay. ~Euripides
They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person. ~Arthur Schopenhauer
He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
People living deeply have no fear of death. ~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1967
When I think of ages past
That have floated down the stream
Of life and love and death,
I feel how free it makes us
To pass away.
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death of one's own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses: so that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still there. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Expeditions of an Untimely Man
Death is for many of us the gate of hell; but we are inside on the way out, not outside on the way in. ~George Bernard Shaw
If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever. ~The Crow, written by James O'Barr, David J. Schow, and John Shirley, 1994
I knew a man who once said, "death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back." ~Gladiator, written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, 2000
Our birth is nothing but our death begun. ~Edward Young, Night Thoughts
I want a priest, a rabbi, and a Protestant clergyman. I want to hedge my bets. ~Wilson Mizner
No one knows whether death is really the greatest blessing a man can have, but they fear it is the greatest curse, as if they knew well. ~Plato
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? ~Khalil Gibran, "The Prophet" (Thanks, Roxalanne)
Life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor. ~Homer, Iliad
Death is the surest calculation that can be made. ~Ludwig Büchner, Force and Matter
Suicide is man's way of telling God, "You can't fire me — I quit." ~Bill Maher, on Politically Incorrect, 1995
Suicide is... the sincerest form of criticism life gets. ~Wilfred Sheed, The Good Word, 1978
After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. ~J.K. Rowling
You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping. ~The Epic of Gilgamesh
Death hath ten thousand several doors
For men to take their exits.
~John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
My soul is full of whispered song;
My blindness is my sight;
The shadows that I feared so long
Are all alive with light.
~Alice Cary, Dying Hymn
God is growing bitter, He envies man his mortality. ~Jacques Rigaut, Pensées
Embalm, v.: To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds. By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their once fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting more than a meagre crew. The modern metallic burial casket is a step in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be ornamenting his neighbor's lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility. We shall get him after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and the rose are languishing for a nibble at his glutaeus maximus. ~Ambrose Bierce
He first deceas'd; She for a little tri'd
To live without him: lik'd it not, and di'd.
The goal of all life is death. ~Sigmund Freud
I sing of Death; yet soon, perchance may be
A dweller in the tomb. But twenty years
Have wither'd, since my pilgrimage began,
And I look back upon my boyish days
With mournful joy; as musing wand'rers do,
With eye reverted, from some lofty hill,
Upon the bright and peaceful vale below.—
Oh! let me live, until the fires that feed
My soul, have work'd themselves away, and then,
Eternal Spirit, take me to Thy home!
For when a child, I shaped inspiring dreams,
And nourish'd aspirations that awoke
Beautiful feelings flowing from the face
Of Nature; from a child, I learn'd to reap
A harvest of sweet thoughts for future years.
~Robert Montgomery, "Death," A Universal Prayer; Death; A Vision of Heaven; and A Vision of Hell; &c. &c., 1829
Every word affords me pain. Yet how sweet it would be if I could hear what the flowers have to say about death! ~E.M. Cioran
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
Death is a release from the impressions of sense, and from impulses that make us their puppets, from the vagaries of the mind, and the hard service of the flesh. ~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Now I know, is that first breath
Which our souls draw when we enter
Life, which is of all life center.
And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me....
And as to you corpse, I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips — I reach to the polished breasts of melons.
And as to you life, I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness.... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever.... I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it. ~H.L. Mencken
Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
The graveyards are full of people the world could not do without. ~Quoted in Elbert Hubbard, "The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest," 1907; often modernized as "The graveyards are full of indispensable men." (Thanks, Garson O'Toole of quoteinvestigator.com!)
Into the winter's gray delight,
Into the summer's golden dream,
Holy and high and impartial,
Death, the mother of Life,
Mingles all men for ever.
~William Ernest Henley, "XIV: Ave, Caesar!", In Hospital
He himself had still the pale evening red of yesterday's joy on his face; but this very indifference to the gradual extinguishing of his days, this growing feebleness and faintness of tone in his conversation, caused Victor to turn away his eyes from him whenever they had for some time rested upon him. Emanuel looked down calm as an eternal sun on the autumn of his bodily life; nay, the more the sand fell from his life's hourglass, so much the more clearly did he look through the empty glass. And yet the earth was to him a beloved place, a fair meadow for our earliest plays of childhood; and he still hung upon his mother of our first life with the love wherewith the bride spends the evening full of childish remembrances on the bosom of her beloved mother, before on the morrow she goes to meet the bridegroom of her heart. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Hesperus, or Forty-Five Dog-Post-Days: A Biography, translated from German by Charles T. Brooks, 1865
And they die an equal death — the idler and the man of mighty deeds. ~Homer, Iliad
Name me no names for my disease,
With uninforming breath;
I tell you I am none of these,
But homesick unto death.
~Witter Bynner, "The Patient to the Doctors"
Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident — It is as common as life. ~Henry David Thoreau, 11 March 1842, letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson
Someday I'll be a weather-beaten skull resting on a grass pillow,
Serenaded by a stray bird or two.
Kings and commoners end up the same,
No more enduring than last night's dream.
To the psychotherapist an old man who cannot bid farewell to life appears as feeble and sickly as a young man who is unable to embrace it. ~C.G. Jung
Death a friend that alone can bring the peace his treasures cannot purchase, and remove the pain his physicians cannot cure. ~Mortimer Collins
Grandmother Hannah comes to me at Pesach
and when I am lighting the sabbath candles.
The sweet wine in the cup has her breath.
The challah is braided like her long, long hair....
When someone dies, it is the unspoken words
that spoil in the mind and ferment to wine....
It's a little low light the yahrtzeit candle
makes, you couldn't read by it or even warm
your hands. So the dead are with us only
as the scent of fresh coffee, of cinnamon,
of pansies excites the nose and then fades,
with us as the small candle burns in its glass.
We lose and we go on losing as long as we live,
a little winter no spring can melt.
~Marge Piercy, "A candle in a glass," Available Light, 1988
Death is patiently making my mask as I sleep. Each morning I awake to discover in the corners of my eyes the small tears of his wax. ~Philip Dow
Immortality—dazzling idea! who first imagined thee! Was it some jolly burgher of Nuremburg, who with night-cap on his head, and white clay pipe in mouth, sat on some pleasant summer evening before his door, and reflected in all his comfort, that it would be right pleasant, if, with unextinguishable pipe, and endless breath, he could thus vegetate onwards for a blessed eternity? Or was it a lover, who in the arms of his loved one, thought the immortality-thought, and that because he could think and feel naught beside!—Love! Immortality! ~Heinrich Heine, "The Hartz Journey" (1824), Pictures of Travel, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, 1855
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. ~William Penn
But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
I see flowers
from the cottage where I lie.
~Yaitsu's death poem, 1807
Old persons are sometimes as unwilling to die as tired-out children are to say good night and go to bed. ~Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Death is just another stage of life, although the one you kind of hope comes last. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death. ~Leonardo da Vinci
On a large enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
God made death so we'd know when to stop. ~Steven Stiles
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. ~Albert Einstein
There is only one ultimate and effectual preventive for the maladies to which flesh is heir, and that is death. ~Harvey Cushing
A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist. ~Stewart Alsop
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death. ~Thomas Browne, An Essay on Death
The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it. ~Doris Day
Well, right now... I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like... I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading.... An old one. It's up on a library shelf, so you're safe and everything, but the book hasn't been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody'll pick it up and start reading. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
Death is a low chemical trick played on everybody except sequoia trees. ~J.J. Furnas
Oh, may I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again.
~George Eliot, The Choir Invisible
Die, v.: To stop sinning suddenly. ~Elbert Hubbard
I intend to live forever. So far, so good. ~Steven Wright
I wouldn't mind dying — it's the business of having to stay dead that scares the shit out of me. ~R. Geis
Anyhow, it's not so bad.... I mean, when you're dead, you just have to be yourself. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
You can be a king or a street sweeper,
but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.
~Robert Alton Harris
Death is life's way of telling you you're fired. ~Author Unknown
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. ~John Muir
Last modified 2014 Apr 15 Tue 12:27 PDT