on death

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on death

12wonderY
Edited: Jun 16, 2011, 10:17am

I've been doing some major rummaging in my house, and found a short file of quotes; I'll record them here and toss the paper notes. (because the internet is forever!)

"Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color." poem by W. S. Merwin called 'Seperation'

"My lungs are thick with the smoke of your absence." -Raymond Carver

22wonderY
Jun 16, 2011, 8:02am

Epitath for a Postal Clerk

Here lies wrapped up tight in sod
Henry Harkins c/o God.
On the day of Resurrection
May be opened for inspection.

32wonderY
Edited: Sep 24, 2013, 11:36am

This one does have an attribution - H. S. Holland

"Death is nothing at all; I have slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you; whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used. Put no difference into your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it always was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity. I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner... All is well."

42wonderY
Edited: Jun 16, 2011, 8:19am

And for some reason, there is a poem which sounds a lot like Richard Brautigan, but I'm not sure, which is scribbled on the back.

I love crows.
If I met one human size
I'd invite him into my living room
and offer him the softest chair.
Then we'd crack a fifth of Old Human
and talk late into the night.
The room would be filled
With the shine and the rustle of his feathers
and the wit of his sharp eye.

(not really sure why I associate this with death, perhaps crows are death heralds?)

Huh! I googled the first two lines and found the poet here: http://www.pemmicanpress.com/reviews/witherup-whitehead.html
His name is William Witherup, and his main theme is death.

5krolik
Edited: Jun 20, 2011, 8:45am

Just to jiggle some of our reflexive assumptions about time, here's Nabokov, in the well-known opening to Speak Memory:

"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heart-beats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first-time at home-made movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged—the same house, the same people—and then realized that he did not exist there at all and nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby-carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated."

62wonderY
Jun 20, 2011, 7:25am

That is stunning. Thanks for adding it.

7patrice.mcdonough
Mar 30, 2015, 4:56pm

I had this lovely poem of Neruda's read aloud at my husband's memorial. It worked perfectly:

Sonnet 89 - Pablo Neruda
When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me once more:
I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
to sniff the sea's aroma that we loved together,
to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

I want what I love to continue to live,
and you whom I love and sang above everything else
to continue to flourish, full-flowered:

so that you can reach everything my love directs you to.
so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,
so that everything can learn the reason for my song.

Wow, I hadn't reread it since I came out of the numbness that surrounded this loss, it's just so right.

82wonderY
Mar 30, 2015, 5:01pm

Thanks for sharing that Patrice. And welcome to LibraryThing.

9abbottthomas
Feb 6, 2016, 7:05am

This, from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, is probably familiar. I don't find it a particularly comforting simile, but at least, for those that can't live with the concept of personal extinction, it supports a continuity of some sort.

"It seems to me that the life of man on earth is like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your captains and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall. Outside, the storms of winter rain and snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one window of the hall and out through another. While he is inside, the bird is safe from the winter storms, but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. So man appears on earth for a little while – but of what went before this life, or what follows, we know nothing.”

10SDaisy
Mar 19, 2017, 11:56pm

“There is one thing about an obituary, you never know how great you are until you read it yourself—when you’re supposed to be dead.”

- from Ernest Hemingway: Man of Courage by Kurt Singer and Jane Sherrod, quote by Ernest Hemingway, not the authors

11SplendorofDelight
Aug 31, 10:40pm

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, nor yet canst thou kill me.
...

John Donne (Sonnet 10 from his Divine Poems, lines 1-4)

12SDaisy
Sep 2, 3:32pm

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Don't you just love Mark Twain's wry wit?