Death in Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant Essay

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Death in Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant

When people ponder death they wonder about the unknown with trepidation. As a young man, William Cullen Bryant wrote the "Thanatopsis." His thoughts progress from the fear of death to the acceptance of the event. People should not fear death because everyone dies and becomes a part of nature.

A person should live life without fearing death and think of death as a pleasant rest. In the poem Bryant says, "When thoughts/Of the last bitter hour come like a blight/Over thy spirit,"(8-15). This quote implies when a person fears death he should listen to nature. He also states, "So live, that when the thy summons come to join/The innumerable caravans, …Thou go not, like a quarry-slave
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An excerpt from the poem says, "Yet not to thy eternal resting-place/Shalt thou retire alone, …Thou shalt lie down/With patriarchs of the infant world --with kings, …"(31-37). This quote explains that when people die they are not alone; they lie down to rest with the people of the past. Later in the poem Bryant states, "All that breathe/Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh/When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care/Plod on, and each one as before will chase/His favorite phantom;" (60-64). He explains that all living things die and that life will continue after they die. In a following selection of the poem he says, "Yet these shall leave…And make their bed with thee…. matron and maid, /The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man-/Shall one by one be gathered to thy side, /By those, who in their turn shall follow them."(64-72). He states that one by one everyone will die. Eventually, everyone dies, and they live on through Nature in another form.

Although a person loses individuality at death, he becomes a part of nature. Bryant says in this line, "Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim/Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again," (22-23). The poet explains that people will return to the Earth that provided them with nourishment when they die. Bryant writes, "To mix for ever with the elements, /To be brother to the insensible rock/And to the sluggish clod, …"(26-28). He asserts here that once they are dead they will mix with
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