Raymond Chandler: You were sleeping the big sleep

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What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.

 

Raymond Chandler (1888–1959), The Big Sleep


Robert Bly: To live means to pick up particles of death

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"To live" means to pick up particles of death
as a child picks up crumbs from beneath the table.
"To exist" means to drop the bread behind you on the path
hoping the birds will find the crumbs and eat them.
"To live" is to rush forward eating up your own death,
like a locomotive with its catcher on, hurrying into the night.

 

Robert Bly (1926–), "To live or not"

 

Photo of wild turkey and her chicks at Cumberland Island National Seashore from PxHere


Merwin: I was young and the dead were in other Ages

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…I was young and the dead were in other Ages
As the grass has its own language

Now I forget where the difference falls

One thing about the living sometimes a piece of us
Can stop dying for a moment
But you the dead.

Once you go into those names you go on you never
Hesitate
You go on


W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), "The Hydra." Originally published in Poetry magazine, May 1967

 

Photo by Chris Beckett on Flickr

 


Emily Dickinson: Color, caste, denomination—these are time's affair

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Color - Caste - Denomination -
These - are Time's Affair -
Death's diviner Classifying
Does not know they are -
 
As in sleep - all Hue forgotten -
Tenets - put behind -
Death's large - Democratic fingers
Rub away the Brand -
 
If Circassian - He is careless -
If He put away
Chrysalis of Blonde - or Umber -
Equal Butterfly -
 
They emerge from His Obscuring -
What Death - knows so well -
Our minuter intuitions -
Deem unplausible
 
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)
 
Photo by Hellerhoff, Wikimedia Commons

Donnelly: We will have to find a new way to talk to each other

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Sometime, within the week after he and his wife were murdered, they both appeared together to me in a dream. I said, “You’re dead.” He said, “We will just have to find a new way to talk to each other.”

Chris Donnelly on the murder of his brother and sister-in-law in 2005

Originally posted on Everytown.org Reprinted by permission. 

Photo by Arup1981 on Wikimedia Commons


Vonnegut: The Tralfamadorian view of death

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The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral....It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that same person is just fine in plenty of other moments.

The narrator in Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay


Kaysen: In the parallel universe

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In the parallel universe the laws of physics are suspended. What goes up does not necessarily come down….Time, too, is different. It may run in circles, flow backward, skip about from now to then….

Another odd feature of the parallel universe is that although it is invisible from this side, once you are in it you can easily see the world you came from….

Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.

Susanna Kaysen (1948–), Girl, Interrupted

 

Photo by Gianni Crestani at Pixabay