Quotations about   mortality

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Always struck by the “comical” aspect of everything in Algeria connected with death. I find nothing more justified. Impossible to exaggerate the ridiculous quality of an event that is normally accompanied by sweat and gurgling. Similarly, it could not be too far demoted from the sacred status normally attributed to it. Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. And from this point of view, death is no more worthy of respect than Nero or the inspector at my local police station.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks, Vol. 1 (1935-1942)
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Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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Neither fear your death’s day nor long for it.

[Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 47, l. 13 [tr. Ker (1919)]
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    The final element of living a happy life. Alt. trans.:
  • "Neither fear, nor wish for, your last day" [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "Nor fear nor yet desire thy last day" [Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906)]
  • "And for the inevitable hour, / Nor hope it nigh, nor dread its power." [tr. Merivale]
  • "Ne wish for Death, ne fear his might." [tr. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey]
  • "Death neither wish, nor fear to see." [tr. Sir Richard Fanshawe]
  • "Neither to fear death nor seek it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Nor dread your last day, nor long for it." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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If glory comes after death, I hurry not.

[Si post fata venit gloria, non propero.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, ep. 10 [tr. Rush]

Alt. trans.: "If glory comes only after death I am in no hurry for it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
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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”
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Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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The King in a carriage may ride,
And the Beggar may crawl at his side;
But in the general race,
They are traveling all the same pace.

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883) English writer, poet, translator
“Chronomoros,” l. 57ff, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (5 Dec 1840)
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Added on 18-Sep-17 | Last updated 18-Sep-17
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Life is near-death experience.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
‘On Pessimism,” lecture (3 Feb 2013)
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Transcript here.
Added on 3-Aug-17 | Last updated 3-Aug-17
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What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
Over the Teacups, ch. 7 (1891)
Added on 29-Dec-16 | Last updated 29-Dec-16
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Every hour wounds. The last one kills.

gaiman-last-one-kills-wist_info-quote

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, epigraph (2001)
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Gaiman notes this as an "old saying." It is frequently found on sun dials or other clocks, sometimes in Latin. Variations:
  • "All hours wound; the last one kills."
  • "All the hours wound you, the last one kills."
  • "They all wound; the last one kills."
  • "Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat."
  • "Omnes vulnerant. Postuma necat."
Added on 17-Nov-16 | Last updated 17-Nov-16
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In our brief national history, we have shot four of our presidents, worried five of them to death, impeached one and hounded another out of office. And when all else fails, we hold an election and assassinate their characters.

P.J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Parliament of Whores, “The President” (1991)
Added on 8-Aug-16 | Last updated 8-Aug-16
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Every day should be passed as if it were to be our last.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 633
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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An occasional glance at the obituary column of The Times has suggested to me that the sixties are very unhealthy; I have long thought that it would exasperate me to die before I had written this book, and so it seemed to me that I had better set about it at once. When I have finished it I can face the future with serenity, for I shall have rounded off my life’s work.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 3 (1938)
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 6-Jul-16
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In youth, the years stretch before one so long that it is hard to realize that they will ever pass, and even in middle age, with the ordinary expectation of life in these days, it is easy to find excuses for delaying what one would like to do but does not want to; but at last a time comes when death must be considered.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 3 (1938)
Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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Remember that man’s life lies all within this present, as ’twere but a hair’s-breadth of time: as for the rest, the past is gone, the future yet unseen.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 3, #10
Added on 15-Jun-16 | Last updated 15-Jun-16
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The world’s an Inn; and I her guest.
I eat; I drink; I take my rest.
My hostess, nature, does deny me
Nothing, wherewith she can supply me;
Where, having stayed a while, I pay
Her lavish bills, and go my way.

Quarles - worlds an inn - wist_info quote

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
“On the World”
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 7-Jun-16
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I’ll clue you in on a secret: death is not the worst thing that could happen to you. I know we think that; we are the first society ever to think that. It’s not worse than dishonor; it’s not worse than losing your freedom; it’s not worse than losing a sense of personal responsibility.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Be More Cynical (2000)
Added on 20-Apr-16 | Last updated 20-Apr-16
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Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Sonnet 60
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Added on 17-Aug-15 | Last updated 17-Aug-15
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“So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly, then?” I asked.

He blinked at me as if I were stupid.

“Well what do you think you do?” he said. “You die of course. That’s what deadly means.”

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Last Chance to See, ch. 2 (1990)
Added on 6-Jul-15 | Last updated 6-Jul-15
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We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Night Watch (2002)
Added on 1-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Small Gods (1992)
Added on 13-May-15 | Last updated 13-May-15
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The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Thomas Gray (1716-1771) English poet
“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” l. 36 (1751)
Added on 25-Mar-15 | Last updated 25-Mar-15
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Among the tortures and devastations of life is this then — our friends are not able to finish their stories.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
The Waves (1931)
Added on 4-Aug-14 | Last updated 4-Aug-14
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Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

Anne Enright (b. 1962) Irish writer
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 26-Jun-14 | Last updated 26-Jun-14
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It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls.

Epicurus (341-270 BC) Greek philosopher
The Vatican Collection of Epicurean Sayings [Sententiae Vaticanae], #31
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Alt. trans.: "One can attain security against other things, but when it comes to death all men live in a city without walls."
Added on 18-Jun-14 | Last updated 18-Jun-14
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Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 48 (1 Sep 1750)
Added on 6-Jun-14 | Last updated 6-Jun-14
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I remember Castelnau: like me Ambassador to England, who wrote like me a narrative of his life in London. On the last page of Book VII, he says to his son: “I will deal with this event in Book VIII,” and Book VIII of Castelnau’s Memoirs does not exist: that warns me to take advantage of being alive.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 6, ch. 8 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]
Added on 20-May-14 | Last updated 20-May-14
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Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortune, or “broken heart,” is excuse for cutting off one’s life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one.

Gilman - quick and easy death - wist_info

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) American sociologist, writer, reformer, feminist
Suicide note (17 Aug 1935)
Added on 1-Feb-11 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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No catalogue of horrors ever kept men from war. Before the war you always think that it’s not you that dies. But you will die, brother, if you go to it long enough.

Hemingway - horrors of war - wist_info quote

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
“Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter,” Esquire (Sep 1935)
Added on 2-Sep-09 | Last updated 21-Jan-16
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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)

Sometimes misattributed to Spike Milligan.
Added on 17-Jun-09 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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This life we have is short, so let us leave a mark for people to remember.

Kip Keino (b. 1940) Kenyan athlete [Kipchoge Keino]
(Attributed)

On why he adopted and educated 69 orphan children.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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