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Scientists have just exhumed Beethoven from his grave. When they opened the coffin they were shocked to see him playing the piano backwards. When asked what this meant, a spokesman said he was decomposing. Anon
We for a certainty are not the first
Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.
It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool’s-errand to the grave.
A E Housman, Poem IX stanzas III & IV
I recoil and droop, and seek repose
In listlessness from vain perplexity;
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave. William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1850
It gives a fellow an awful shiver to hear the first shovelful of dirt and gravel rattle down upon the coffin; but after it is covered, it falls gently and makes no sound. The feeling of rest is perfect. There’s no more nagging, no more pain! William Morris Hunt
I shall soon be laid in the quiet grave – thank God for the quiet grave – O! I can feel the cold earth upon me – the daisies growing over me – O for this quiet – it will be my first. John Keats
If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on the headstone might well be: It seemed a good idea at the time. Rebecca West
Even in the grave, all is not lost. Edgar Allan Poe
By many lands and over many a wave
I come, my brother, to your piteous grave,
To bring you the last offering in death
And o’er dumb dust expend an idol breath ...
To take these gifts, brought as our fathers bade
For sorrow’s tribute to the passing shade;
A brother's tears have wet them o’er and o’er;
And so, my brother, hail, and fairwell everymore! Catullus
Do you know how black the grave is? Doctors, blind man to doctor, BBC 24th February 2011
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. Confucius
The bitterest tear shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. Edna St Vincent Millay, Dirge Without Music, 1928
While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal living conditions on this earth? George Bernard Shaw
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left. Clare Harner or Mary Elizabeth Frye, attributions & variations
Why would you stick someone you love down in a lonely hole in the dirt? Where it’s cold, and dirty, and full of bugs? Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures
Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He’ll know nothing. He’ll tell me about the blows he received and I’ll give him a carrot. (pause) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener. At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (pause) I can’t go on! (pause) What have I said? Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
I have seen a thousand graves opened, and always perceived that whatever was gone, the teeth and hair remained of those who had died with them. Is not this odd? They go the very first things in youth and yet last the longest in the dust. Lord Byron
The fools who flock’d to swell or see the show
Who car’d about the corpse? The funeral
Made the attraction, and the black the woe;
There throbb’d not there a thought which pierc’d the pall. Lord Byron, Vision of Judgment st10
And when the gorgeous coffin was laid low,
It seemed the mockery of hell to fold
The rottenness of eighty years in gold. Lord Byron, re burial of George III
Life was a funny thing that occurred on the way to the grave. Quentin Crisp
Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,
With here and there a violet bestrewn,
Fast by a brook or fountain’s murmuring wave;
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave! James Beattie, The Minstrel II, 1771
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Await alike th’ inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood. ibid.
Never did tombs look so ghastly white. Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom. Never did tree or grass wave or rustle so ominously. Never did bough creak so mysteriously, and never did the far-away howling of dogs send such a woeful presage through the night. Bram Stoker, Dracula
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alastor l57
O heart, and mind, and thoughts! what thing do you
Hope to inherit in the grave below? Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ye Hasten to the Dead!
The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonis preface, 1821
I like working on churches. It’s so nice and peaceful. And then I like doing a bit of grave-stone reading. Fred Dibnah, Life with Fred 1/4, BBC 1994