Famous Poems About Death

Below are the final stanzas from three famous poems about death. The first two poets see death in a positive light, an experience not to be dreaded, as by most people, but one to accept – the first with defiance, the other with anticipated pleasure. Emily Dickins describes her own death in terms of what she’s observed living in a Puritan family in Amherst, MA.
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William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1903   English Poet
From “Invictus”

William Ernest Henley

Beyond this place of wrath and tears  
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years  
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.  

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.

William Cullen Bryant (1794 – 1878)  American Poet
From “Thanatopsis”

So live, that when thy summons comes to join  
The innumerable caravan, which moves  
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take  
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, 
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed  
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,  
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)   American  Poet
From. ”I heard a Fly Buzzed When I Died”

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz
Between the light – and me
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

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