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Quotations about death

Joseph CampbellThe happy ending is justly scorned as a misrepresentation; for the world, as we know it, as we have seen it, yields but one ending; death, disintegration, dismemberment, and the crucifixion of our heart with the passing of the forms which we have loved.

 - Joseph Campbell

Vincent van GoghI would rather die of passion than of boredom.

 - Vincent van Gogh

Bertrand RussellWe all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think -- in fact they do so.

 - Bertrand Russell

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.

 - Otto von Bismark

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty powers! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

 - Patrick Henry

Mahatma GandhiLive as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

 - Mahatma Gandhi

Anne FrankI don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death!

 - Anne Frank

David HumeWhen I shall be dead, the principles of which I am composed will still perform their part in the universe, and will be equally useful in the grand fabric, as when they composed this individual creature. The difference to the whole will be no greater betwixt my being in a chamber and in the open air. The one change is of more importance to me than the other; but not more so to the universe.

 - David Hume

James BaldwinPerhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.

 - James Baldwin

Stephen HawkingI have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first... I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

 - Stephen Hawking

EpicurusAccustom yourself to the belief that death is of no concern to us, since all good and evil lie in sensation and sensation ends with death. Therefore the true belief that death is nothing to us makes a mortal life happy, not by adding to it an infinite time, but by taking away the desire for immortality. For there is no reason why the man who is thoroughly assured that there is nothing to fear in death should find anything to fear in life.

So, too, he is foolish who says that he fears death, not because it will be painful when it comes, but because the anticipation of it is painful; for that which is no burden when it is present gives pain to no purpose when it is anticipated. Death, the most dreaded of evils, is therefore of no concern to us; for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present we no longer exist.

 - Epicurus

Edward AbbeyIf my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a Juniper tree or the wings of a vulture-that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.

 - Edward Abbey

Banana YpshimotoWhen was it I realized that, on this truly dark and solitary path we all walk, the only way we can light is our own? Although I was raised with love, I was always lonely. Someday, without fail, everyone will disappear, scattered into the blackness of time.

 - Banana Yoshimoto

Where are you now, little wandering
Life, that so faithfully dwelt with us,
Played with us, fed with us, felt with us,
Years we grew fonder and fonder in?

You who but yesterday sprang to us,
Are we forever bereft of you?
And is this all that is left of you--
One little grave, and a pang to us?

 - William Hurrell Mallock

Tim BurtonMost people say about graveyards: "Oh, it's just a bunch of dead people. It's creepy." But for me, there's an energy to it that it not creepy, or dark. It has a positive sense to it.

 - Tim Burton

Yoshida KenkoThe hour of death waits for no order. Death does not even come from the front. It is ever pressing on from behind. All men know of death, but they do not expect it of a sudden, and it comes upon them unawares. So, though the dry flats extend far out, soon the tide comes and floods the beach.

 - Yoshida Kenko

Salman RushdieWhenever someone who knows you disappears, you lose one version of yourself. Yourself as you were seen, as you were judged to be. Lover or enemy, mother or friend, those who know us construct us, and their several knowings slant the different facets of our characters like diamond-cutter's tools. Each such loss is a step leading to the grave, where all versions blend and end.

 - Salman Rushdie

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheWe cannot too soon convince ourselves how easily we may be dispensed with in the world. What important personages we imagine ourselves to be! We think that we alone are the life of the circle in which we move; in our absence, we fancy that life, existence, breath will come to a general pause, and, alas, the gap which we leave is scarcely perceptible, so quickly is it filled again; nay, it is often the place, if not of something better, at least for something more agreeable.

 - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Richard DawkinsWe 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.

 - Richard Dawkins

Benjamin FranklinOur new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

 - Benjamin Franklin

Chinua AchebeYou died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest -- without asking to be paid.

 - Chinua Achebe

The life of man is the incessant walk of nature, wherein every moment is a step towards death. Even our growing to perfection is a progress to decay. Every thought we have is a sand running out of the glass of life.

 - Owen Feltham

Woody AllenI don't want to achieve immortality through my work . . . I want to achieve it through not dying.

 - Woody Allen

John DonneNo man is an Island, entire of It self; every man Is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as If a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 - John Donne

John DonneDeath comes equally to us all, and makes us all equal when it comes. The ashes of an Oak in the Chimney, are no epitaph of that Oak, to tell me how high or how large that was; It tells me not what flocks it sheltered while it stood, nor what men It hurt when it fell.

 - John Donne

Charles DarwinConsider the view now held by most physicists, namely, that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun, and thus gives it fresh life. Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress.

 - Charles Darwin

Horace Pale death enters with impartial step the cottages of the poor and the palaces of the rich.

 - Horace

Michel de MontaigneIt is indeed the boundary of life, beyond which we are not to pass; which the law of nature has pitched for a limit not to be exceeded.

 - Michel de Montaigne

Michel de MontaigneThe premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learnt to die has forgot to serve.

 - Michel de Montaigne

And what would it be to grow old? For, after a certain distance, every step we take in life we find the ice growing thinner below our feet, and all around us and behind us we see our contemporaries going through.

 - Robert Lewis Stevenson

John KeatsI have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.

 - John Keats

John KeatsI shall soon be laid in the quiet grave -- thank God for the quiet grave -- O! I can feel the cold earth upon me -- the daisies growing over me -- O for this quiet -- it will be my first.

 - John Keats

Samuel JohnsonIt matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.

 - Samuel Johnson

Randy PauschI'm dying and I'm having fun. And I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there's no other way to play it. So my next piece of advice is, you just have to decide if you're a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I'm clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It's just too important. It's what drives us.

 - Randy Pausch

Marcus Tullius CiceroAs I give thought to the matter, I find four causes for the apparent misery of old age; first, it withdraws us from active accomplishments; second, it renders the body less powerful; third, it deprives us of almost all forms of enjoyment; fourth, it stands not far from death.

 - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Steve JobsRemembering 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.

 - Steve Jobs

Joseph RouxWe call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losmg a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.

 - Joseph Roux

George VestIf fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

 - George Vest

Mark TwainAnnihilation has no terrors for me, because I have already tried it before I was born -- a hundred million years -- and I have suffered more in an hour, in this life, than I remember to have suffered in the whole hundred million years put together. There was a peace, a serenity, an absence of all sense of responsibility, an absence of worry, an absence of care, grief, perplexity; and the presence of a deep content and unbroken satisfaction in that hundred million years of holiday which I look back upon with a tender longing and with a grateful desire to resume, when the opportunity comes.

 - Mark Twain