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To die is nothing. Begin by living. It’s less funny and lasts longer.

[Mourir, ce n’est rien. Commence donc par vivre. C’est moins drôle et c’est plus long.]

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) French dramatist
Roméo et Jeannette, Act 3 (1946) [tr. (1949)]
Added on 18-Sep-23 | Last updated 18-Sep-23
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When an illness is incurable and painful, and makes useful activity impossible, it is mere cruelty to prolong life; at any rate if the sufferer is anxious to die, or has lost his reason. The prolongation of his life can be neither a happiness to himself nor a benefit to society, and is therefore equally unjustified from the standpoint of the individual and from that of the community.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On Euthanasia,” New York American (1934-01-01)
Added on 27-Apr-23 | Last updated 27-Apr-23
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          Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it. He died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed
As ’twere a careless trifle.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Macbeth, Act 1, sc. 4, l. 8ff [Malcolm] (1606)
Added on 7-Nov-22 | Last updated 7-Nov-22
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I have lived a life. I’ve journeyed through
the course that Fortune charted for me. And now
I pass to the world below, my ghost in all its glory.

[Vixi, et, quem dederat cursum Fortuna, peregi;
Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit Imago.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 653ff (4.653-654) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006)]

Dido's deathbed statement.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

I have
Liv'd, and perform'd that course my fortune gave,
And now the earth must my great shade seclude.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

My fatal course is finish'd; and I go,
A glorious name, among the ghosts below.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

I have lived, and finished the race which fortune gave me. And now my ghost shall descent illustrious to the shades below.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

My life is lived, and I have played
     The part that Fortune gave,
And now I pass, a queenly shade,
     Majestic to the grave.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

I have lived,
And have achieved the course that fortune gave.
And now of me the queenly shade shall pass
Beneath the earth.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 855ff]

I have lived and fulfilled Fortune's allotted course; and now shall I go a queenly phantom under the earth.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

I, I have lived, and down the way fate showed to me have passed;
And now a mighty shade of me shall go beneath the earth!
[tr. Morris (1900)]

My life is lived; behold, the course assigned
By Fortune now is finished, and I go,
A shade majestic, to the world below.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 86, l 768ff]

My life is done.
I have accomplished what my lot allowed;
and now my spirit to the world of death
in royal honor goes.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

My life is done and I have finished the course that Fortune gave; and now in majesty my shade shall pass beneath the earth.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

I have lived, I have run the course that fortune gave me,
And now my shade, a great one, will be going
Below the earth.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

I have lived, I have run to finish the course which fortune gave me:
And now, a queenly shade, I shall pass to the world below.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

I have lived
and journeyed through the course assigned by fortune.
And now my Shade will pass, illustrious,
beneath the earth.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 900ff]

I have lived my life out to the very end
And passed the stages Fortune had appointed.
Now my tall shade goes to the under world.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 907ff]

I have lived my life and completed the course that Fortune has set before me, and now my great spirit will go beneath the earth.
[tr. West (1990)]

I have lived, and I have completed the course that Fortune granted,
and now my noble spirit will pass beneath the earth.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

I have lived, and I have completed the course
Assigned by Fortune. Now my mighty ghost
Goes beneath the earth.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

I'm done with life; I've run the course Fate gave me.br> Now my noble ghost goes to the Underworld.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 24-Aug-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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It takes more courage to live than to die; which is proved by the fact that so many more men die well than live well.

William Lyon Phelps
William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) American educator and critic
Representative Plays by J. M. Barrie, Introduction, § 2 (1926)
Added on 17-Jun-22 | Last updated 17-Jun-22
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The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he’s intelligent. He simply doesn’t mention them.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
A Farewell to Arms, ch. 21 [Catherine] (1929)

Referring to a common paraphrase of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (2.2.34) "The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one."
Added on 27-Dec-21 | Last updated 27-Dec-21
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For the world, I count it not an Inne, but an Hospitall, and a place, not to live, but to die in.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, Part 2, sec. 11 (1643)
Added on 3-Aug-21 | Last updated 3-Aug-21
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It’s a blessing to die for a cause, because you can so easily die for nothing.

Andrew Young (b. 1932) American politician, diplomat, activist
Interview by Peter Ross Range, Playboy (Jul 1977)
Added on 25-Feb-21 | Last updated 25-Feb-21
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He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;
so his head bent slack to one side beneath the helm’s weight.

[Μήκων δ’ ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ’ ἐνὶ κήπῳ
καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
ὣς ἑτέρωσ’ ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 8, l. 306ff (8.306-308) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Lattimore (1951)]

Describing the death of Gorgythion, son of Priam.

Alt. trans.:
And, as a crimson poppy flow’r, surchargéd with his seed,
And vernal humours falling thick, declines his heavy brow,
So, of one side, his helmet’s weight his fainting head did bow.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 265-67]

As full-blown poppies, overcharged with rain,
Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain, --
So sinks the youth; his beauteous head, depressed
Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

As in the garden, with the weight surcharged
Of its own fruit, and drench’d by vernal rains
The poppy falls oblique, so he his head
Hung languid, by his helmet’s weight depress’d.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 351ff]

And as a poppy, which in the garden is weighed down with fruit and vernal showers, droops its head to one side, so did his head incline aside, depressed by the helmet.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Down sank his head, as in a garden sinks
A ripen'd poppy charg'd with vernal rains;
So sank his head beneath his helmet's weight.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 349-51]

Now he bowed his head as a garden poppy in full bloom when it is weighed down by showers in spring -- even thus heavy bowed his head beneath the weight of his helmet.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

And he bowed his head to one side like a poppy that in a garden is laden with its fruit and the rains of spring; so bowed he to one side his head, laden with his helmet.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Fallen on one side, as on the stalk a poppy falls, weighed down by showring spring, beneath his helmet's weight his head sank down.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends
by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
so Gorgythion's head fell limp over one shoulder,
weighed down by his helmet.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 349-53]

Off to one side his head he let drop, like a poppy that in some
garden is heavy with its own seed and the showers of springtime --
so to one side did his head incline, weighed down by his helmet.
[tr. Merrill (2007), ll. 306-08]
Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Damned, ch. 1 (2011)
Added on 30-Jun-20 | Last updated 30-Jun-20
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Oh, let it be a night of lyric rain
And singing breezes, when my bell is tolled.
I have so loved the rain that I would hold
Last in my ears its friendly, dim refrain.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Testament,” Not So Deep as a Well (1936)
Added on 30-Mar-20 | Last updated 30-Mar-20
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There’s nothing noble about dying. Not even if you die for honor. Not even if you die the greatest hero the world ever saw. Not even if you’re so great your name will never be forgotten and who’s that great? The most important thing is your life, little guys. You’re worth nothing dead except for speeches. Don’t let them kid you any more. Pay no attention when they tap you on the shoulder and say come along we’ve got to fight for liberty, or whatever their word is. There’s always a word.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Johnny Got His Gun (1938)
Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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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 have a call.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) American poet and author
“Lady Lazarus”
Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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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 (1914-1953) Welsh poet and writer
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (1947)

First published in Botteghe Oscure (Nov 1951).
Added on 2-Nov-17 | Last updated 2-Nov-17
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DEATH: You see. No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder. What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning.

George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015) American writer
Twilight Zone, 3×16 “Nothing in the Dark” (5 Jan 1962)
Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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What sort of a lover am I to think so much about my affliction and so much less about hers? Even the insane call, ‘Come back,’ is all for my own sake. I never even raised the question whether such a return, if it were possible, would be good for her. I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal?

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
Added on 13-Sep-16 | Last updated 13-Sep-16
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“Gun-wielding recluse gunned down by local police” isn’t the epitaph I want. I am hoping for “Witnesses reported the sound up to two hundred kilometers away” or “Last body part finally located”.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
Usenet (2005)
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round — we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’ Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Mary Willis Shelburne (17 Jun 1963)

Discussing the closeness of death.
Added on 23-Sep-15 | Last updated 23-Sep-15
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A Good life fears not Life nor Death.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, # 157 (1732)
Added on 17-Aug-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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I want death to find me planting my cabbages.

Montaigne - cabbages - wist_info

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
“That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)]
Added on 24-Jul-09 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
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It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Woody Allen (b. 1935) American comedian, writer, director [b. Allan Steward Konigsberg]
“Death (A Play)”, Without Feathers (1975)
Added on 17-Jun-09 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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I cannot forgive my friends for dying; I do not find these vanishing acts of theirs at all amusing.

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
Afterthoughts, ch. 2 “Age and Death” (1931)
Added on 11-Feb-09 | Last updated 10-Oct-22
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Death is not the worst evil, but rather when we wish to die and cannot.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Electra, l. 1007

Alt. trans.: "For death is not the worst, but when one wants to die and is not able even to have that."
Added on 16-Jun-08 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying.

[Lebe, wie Du, wenn du stirbst, / Wunschen wirst, gelebt zu haben.]

Christian Gellert (1715-1769) German poet, moralist
Geistliche Oden und Lieder, “Vom Tode” (1757)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Jan-22
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