Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Genesis 3, 19: Rememember, man, thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. Memento, homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.

Our plesance here is all vain glory,
This fals world is but transitory,
The flesche is brukle, the Feynd is slee;
Timor mortis conturbat me.

No stait in Erd here standis sicker;
As with the wynd wavis the wicker,
Wavis this wardlis vanitie;
Timor mortis conturbat me.

(William Dunbar c. 1460 -- c. 1520, from "Lament for the Makers.")

Here lie I by the chancel door;
They put me here because I was poor.
The further in, the more you pay,
But here lie I as snug as they.

(Devon tombstone.)

Here lies Piron, a complete nullibiety,
Not even a Fellow of a Learned Society.

Alexis Piron, 1689-1773, "My Epitaph"

Why hoard your maidenhead? There'll not be found
A lad to love you, girl, under the ground.
Love's joys are for the quick; but when we're dead
It's dust and ashes, girl, will go to bed.

(Asclepiades, fl. 290 B.C., tr. R. A. Furness)

The world, perhaps, does not see that those who rightly engage in philosophy study only death and dying. And, if this be true, it would surely be strange for a man all through his life to desire only death, and then, when death comes to him, to be vexed at it, when it has been his study and his desire for so long.

Plato, Phaedo, St. 64, tr. F. J. Church