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Thanatopsis

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Thanatopsis 
A Meditation On Death

From the Greek word thanatos meaning 'death personified'


Truly it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow,
then the light is nearest of all to us.
Johannes Eckhart


Gone from My Sight
By Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky came to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying.


 




From a poem by Ernest Christopher Dowson:

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

 

 




The final lines of Thanatopsis
By William Cullen Bryant

So live, that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan which moves to that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, But sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

 

 

 

Go to next page: When Parents Die



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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
.
Mary Jane Moffat
 
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