I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat.
—Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) Polish-born British Novelist
I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not have him merely seize me, and only declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me. When I must shipwreck, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotency might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming.
—John Donne (1572–1631) English Poet, Cleric
Death is the wish of some, the relief of many, and the end of all.
—Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) (c.4 BCE–65 CE) Roman Stoic Philosopher, Statesman, Tragedian
For the dead there are no more toils.
—Sophocles (495–405 BCE) Ancient Greek Dramatist
Every man goes down to his death bearing in his hands only that which he has given away.
Death gives us sleep, eternal youth, and immortality.
—Jean Paul (1763–1825) German Novelist, Humorist
Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) Austrian-born British Philosopher
Death doesn’t frighten me.
—Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–97) English Royal, Humanitarian, Peace Activist
Only those are fit to live who are not afraid to die.
—Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) American Military Leader
Death doesn’t affect the living because it has not happened yet. Death doesn’t concern the dead because they have ceased to exist.
—W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) British Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Playwright
Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life.
—Thomas Merton (1915–68) American Trappist Monk
Let no man fear to die, we love to sleep all, and death is but the sounder sleep.
—Francis Beaumont (1584–1616) English Dramatist
Annihilation 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 (1835–1910) American Humorist
For ‘Tis not in mere death that men die most.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61) English Poet
You must not fear death, my lads; defy him, and you drive him into the enemy’s ranks.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
—Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Italian Polymath, Painter, Sculptor, Inventor, Architect
When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do.
—Jimi Hendrix (1942–70) American Musician, Songwriter, Singer
This world is a dream within a dream; and as we grow older, each step is an awakening. The youth awakes, as he thinks, from childhood; the full-grown man despises the pursuits of youth as visionary; and the old man looks on manhood as a feverish dream. Death the last sleep? No! It is the last and final awakening!
—Walter Scott (1771–1832) Scottish Novelist, Poet, Playwright, Lawyer
I don’t believe in an after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
—Woody Allen (b.1935) American Film Actor, Director
Once you have been confronted with a life-and-death situation, trivia no longer matters. Your perspective grows and you live at a deeper level. There’s no time for pettiness.
—Happy Rockefeller (1926–2015) American Philanthropist
Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
An orphan’s curse would drag to hell, a spirit from on high; but oh! more horrible than that, is a curse in a dead man’s eye!
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) English Poet, Literary Critic, Philosopher
Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.
—Marcus Aurelius (121–180) Emperor of Rome, Stoic Philosopher
He was exhaled; his great Creator drew His spirit, as the sun the morning dew.
—John Dryden (1631–1700) English Poet, Literary Critic, Playwright
The best place a person can die, is where they die for others.
—J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) Scottish Novelist, Dramatist
Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.
—Martin Luther (1483–1546) German Protestant Theologian
Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore grieve not for what is inevitable.
—The Bhagavad Gita Hindu Scripture
A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy Fame is proud to win them:—
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release; the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure; the comforter of him whom time cannot console.
—Charles Caleb Colton (c.1780–1832) English Clergyman, Aphorist
An evil life is a kind of death.
—Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (c.43 BCE–c.18 CE) Roman Poet
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.
—Francis Bacon (1561–1626) English Philosopher
The death of what’s dead is the birth of what’s living.
—Arlo Guthrie (b.1947) American Singer, Songwriter
I look upon life as a gift from God. I did nothing to earn it. Now that the time is coming to give it back, I have no right to complain.
—Joyce Cary (1888–1957) English Novelist, Artist
Do you know that disease and death must needs overtake us, no matter what we are doing? … What do you wish to be doing when it overtakes you? If you have anything better to be doing when you are so overtaken, get to work on that.
—Epictetus (55–135) Ancient Greek Philosopher
Our last garment is made without pockets.
Death always comes too early or too late.
How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset.
—George MacDonald (1824–1905) Scottish Novelist, Lecturer, Poet
How gladly would I meet mortality, my sentence, and be earth in sensible! how glad would lay me down, as in my mother’s lap! There I should rest, and sleep secure.
—John Milton (1608–74) English Poet, Civil Servant, Scholar, Debater
Death is the king of this world: ‘Tis his park where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain are music for his banquet
—George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) (1819–80) English Novelist
It hath often been said that it is not death but dying that is terrible.
—Henry Fielding (1707–54) English Novelist, Dramatist
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
—The Holy Bible Scripture in the Christian Faith
Death never takes the wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go.
—Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95) French Poet, Short Story Writer
In the fall, you don’t grieve because the leaves are falling and dying. You say, “Isn’t it beautiful!” Well, we’re the same way. There are seasons. We all fall sooner or later. It’s all so beautiful. And our concepts, without investigation, keep us from knowing this. It’s beautiful to be a leaf, to be born, to fall, to give way to the next, to become food for the roots. It’s life, always changing its form and always giving itself completely. We all do our part. No mistake.
—Byron Katie (b.1942) American Speaker, Author
Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep, and yet a third of life is passed in sleep.
—Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.
—Dean Smith (1931–2015) American Basketball Coach
When the body sinks into death, the essence of man is revealed. Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied. Only those relationships matter. The body is an old crock that nobody will miss. I have never known a man to think of himself when dying. Never.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–44) French Novelist, Aviator
Death has but one terror, that it has no tomorrow.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before, advanced a stage or two upon that road which you must travel in the steps they trod.
—Aristophanes (447–386 BCE) Greek Comic Playwright
Though it be in the power of the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death.
—Thomas Browne (1605–82) English Author, Physician
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;- then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
—John Keats (1795–1821) English Poet