Open Invitation for “Death Bed Sayings”

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An Open Invitation To Compose Dying Sayings–Your Own, Right Here in Comments!

I invite you to leave what would be your choice of “dying sayings” or “last words” or “your epitaph” in the comments below on this post.

The inspiration for this request comes from Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Centenary Edition, Revised, 1981, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York. This book has 187 “Dying Sayings,” and I’m sure living WordPress bloggers and blog readers can write no less inspiring self-composed epitaphs than the historically famous.

Among the “Dying Sayings,” pp. 369-372, are the below fourteen entries plus my own:

Newton: “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Richard I: “Youth, I forgive thee!”  (Said to Bertrand du Gourdon, who shot him with an arrow at Challus. Then, to his attendants, he added): “Take off his chains, give him 100 shillings, and let him go.”

Augustus (to his friends): “Do you think I have played my part pretty well through the farce of life?”

Beecher (Henry Ward): “Now comes the mystery.”

Goethe: “Light, more light!”

Hannibal: “Let us now relieve the Romans of their fears by the death of a feeble old man.”

Jackson (“Stonewall“): “Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

More (Sir Thomas): “See me safe up [i.e. on ascending the scaffold]; for my coming down, let me shift for myself.”

Mozart: “You spoke of a refreshment, Emile; take my last notes, and let me hear once more my solace and delight.”

Poe (Edgar Allan): “Lord, help my soul!”

Roland (Madame; on her way to the guillotine): “O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

Saladin: “When I am buried, carry my winding-sheet on the point of a spear, and say these words: Behold the spoils which Saladin carries with him! Of all his victories, realms and riches, nothing remains to him but this.”

Webster (Daniel): “Life, life! Death, death! How curious it is!”

Wordsworth: “God bless you! Is that you, Dora?”

Soaringdragons: “I have been waiting for this moment since my youth, and it is with extreme anticipation that I wait now.”

Feel free to compose as many of your own “dying sayings” as you wish in comments. Please bear in mind that this blog is P.G. and contains 18,000 words, none of which are swear words. So, the rule is that if your response includes ‘swear words’ (my own private definition being the standard) I will either edit the response or delete it, my option.

I hope everyone contributes. Cheers!

Thanks, Gian: Shh. Don’t cry. I’ll just sleep. I will just close my eyes and will not open them forever, though.

Thanks, Ahmed: Live your own life, create your own adventures and never walk according to someone else’s path.

Thanks, Blue: When I die I hope that I am the last to know.

Thanks, Chris: I take my leave, having stepped lightly on this earth.

Thanks, 11OrangeAnkh11: Do not worry or weep, it is only the body that is passing. For I cannot die. Energy cannot be destroyed. One chapter is closing, but eternal Life is NOW.

Thanks, dadirri7: At last the long-awaited door opens for me to pass through, what joy!

Thanks, asakoplus: Who is going to answer my emails (password protected) after my demise?

Thanks, Andra Watkins: I lived life.

Thanks, saffronsound:

When those far-away days
have put our heads to rest,
how will we remember
those shadows and lights you sketched?

…peace and trees…saffronsound

Thanks, sparrow:

soaringdragons this may not be what you were looking for but as i read your post thought of the richness of Japanese Zen poems that where written at the moment of death….

These poems are part of a centuries-old Japanese tradition in which Zen monks, samurai and others compose poems at the moment of death.

DEATH POEM. . .#1
Coming and going, life and death;
A thousand hamlets, a million houses.
Dont you get the point?
Moon is the water, blossom in the sky….
GIZAN.

DEATH POEM….#2
Life as we
Find it, death too.
A parting poem?
Why insist?….
Ta-Hui Tsung-Ka

DGesshDied January 10, 1696, at age 79
Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight –
Thus I return to the source.

GokKy died October 8, 1272, at age 56
The truth embodied in the Buddhas
Of the future, present, past;
The teaching we received from the
Fathers of our faith
Can be found at the tip of my stick.

When Goku felt his death was near, he ordered all his monk-disciples to gather around him. He sat at the pulpit, raised his stick, gave the floor a single tap with it, and said the poem above. When he finished, he raised the stick again, tapped the floor once more, and cried, “See! See!” Then, sitting upright, he died.

Hosshin, 13th century
Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it. Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What, then, is all?
Hosshin’s last word was “Katsu!” (a word signifying the attainment of enlightenment.)

Shoro, died April 1894, at age 80
Pampas grass, now dry,
once bent this way
and that.

Sunao, died in 1926 at 39
Spitting blood
clears up reality
and dream alike.

Senryu, died September 23, 1790, at 73
Bitter winds of winter –
but later, river willow,
open up your buds.

Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77
Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going –
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.

A few days before his death, Kozan called his pupils together, ordered them to bury him without ceremony, and forbade them to hold services in his memory. He wrote this poem on the morning of his death, laid down his brush and died sitting upright.

Senryu, died June 2, 1827
Like dew drops
on a lotus leaf
I vanish.

Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49
During his last moment, Shisui’s followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died.

The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism. It indicates void — the essence of all things — and enlightenment.

Thanks, lessonslearnedthehardway:

“It is extremely hard to let go of regret when the other person involved is dead.”

“Spend as much time as you can with those you love the most because you never know when they will die. Whatever you do, do not take them for granted. You will regret it, and you will live with that for the rest of your life, like me.”

Thanks, melissa:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

~ e. e. cummings

Thanks, ohhchristine: I never knew that I’d find my greatest peace in my greatest fear.

Thanks, pacotheisen: It is good to be home!

Thanks, brightfirewoman: “Wait…I wasn’t finished.”

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About soaringdragons

Twenty years and still alive--in China, that is. I write about China and the world of spirit--all very non-expertly--and whatever else strikes my fancy. You'll find posts on even days of the month.
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42 Responses to Open Invitation for “Death Bed Sayings”

  1. Oh, I like this and thank you for the invitation, let me give it a bit of thought 🙂

  2. soaringdragons says:

    Thanks for your note. Take your time. Cheers!

  3. Gian Carlo says:

    If the selfish death would come to me, I want it to take my life while I’m sleeping. Not in pain because I’m so sick of it.

  4. Gian Carlo says:

    Shh. Don’t cry. I’ll just sleep. I will just close my eyes and will not open them forever, though.

  5. Ahmed Nader says:

    Live your own life, create your own adventures and never walk according to someone else’s path. It took me a whole life time to acknowledge these facts, but I guess that’s the purpose of life. I consider myself lucky to have understood these facts.

    • soaringdragons says:

      Following your own heart and making your own choices is a wonderful way to go about living. Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you dropped by.

  6. Blue says:

    Greetings soaringdragons, and thank you for the invitation to comment on death and dying. Everyday I have a different thought, feeling, perspective, whim. Today it is,

    “When I die I hope that I am the last to know.” Cheers from Blue.

    • soaringdragons says:

      Thanks for commenting, and cheers back to you! As they say, not knowing, or ignorance, is also a kind of bliss.

  7. chris says:

    Perhaps this:
    I take my leave, having stepped lightly on this earth.

    If not my own words, I would choose those of Goethe’s Wandrers Nachtlied (Wanderers Nightsong):

    Over all the mountaintops
    Is peace
    In all the treetops
    You hear
    Hardly a breath.
    The birds are silent in the forest
    Just wait, soon
    You too shall rest.

    -my translation. (There are surely better ones).

  8. soaringdragons says:

    Your translation is great!

    And stepping light, with permission, is a nice touch. Thanks for the contribution.

  9. 11OrangeAnkh11 says:

    Hey SoaringDragons…Thanks for the invite hmm…

    “Do not worry or weep, it is only the body that is passing. For I cannot die. Energy cannot be destroyed. One chapter is closing, but eternal Life is NOW.”

    Funny you would send this. I was looking at dying sayings this week. And the orange code is #f38339 Thanks again and good luck!

    Namaste : )

  10. dadirri7 says:

    Thank you soaringdragons for the invitation! I almost died as a child, floating up and up, so free and blissful, until I had to return to my body below, to pain and illness, but to a life ever touched by that light and freedom.

    Perhaps I will say “At last the long-awaited door opens for me to pass through, what joy!”

  11. soaringdragons says:

    Thanks for your contribution and the comment about your childhood–think of all the mysteries we haven’t seen yet!

  12. asokaplus says:

    Who is going to answer my emails (password protected) after my demise?

  13. Wow. I am honored to be included in this project. Thank you for inviting me.

    I lived life.

  14. saffronsound says:

    When those far-away days
    have put our heads to rest,
    how will we remember
    those shadows and lights you sketched?

    …peace and trees…saffronsound

  15. soaringdragons says:

    Lovely, a dream. Thank you.

  16. tasinator says:

    Is it death, or simply a reality I no longer visit? Even now I do not spend 100% of my time in this reality; so perhaps death is simply moving on to other realities.

  17. A Miles says:

    We breathe until we don’t… then we breathe anew

  18. soaringdragons says:

    I’m really glad I sent out those invitations. The responses have been really good. Cheers!

  19. sparrow says:

    soaringdragons this may not be what you were looking for but as i read your post thought of the richness of Japanese Zen poems that where written at the moment of death….

    These poems are part of a centuries-old Japanese tradition in which Zen monks, samurai and others compose poems at the moment of death.

    DEATH POEM. . .#1
    Coming and going, life and death;
    A thousand hamlets, a million houses.
    Dont you get the point?
    Moon is the water, blossom in the sky….
    GIZAN.

    DEATH POEM….#2
    Life as we
    Find it, death too.
    A parting poem?
    Why insist?….
    Ta-Hui Tsung-Ka

    DGesshDied January 10, 1696, at age 79
    Inhale, exhale
    Forward, back
    Living, dying:
    Arrows, let flown each to each
    Meet midway and slice
    The void in aimless flight —
    Thus I return to the source.

    GokKy died October 8, 1272, at age 56
    The truth embodied in the Buddhas
    Of the future, present, past;
    The teaching we received from the
    Fathers of our faith
    Can be found at the tip of my stick.

    When Goku felt his death was near, he ordered all his monk-disciples to gather around him. He sat at the pulpit, raised his stick, gave the floor a single tap with it, and said the poem above. When he finished, he raised the stick again, tapped the floor once more, and cried, “See! See!” Then, sitting upright, he died.

    Hosshin, 13th century
    Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it. Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
    What, then, is all?
    Hosshin’s last word was “Katsu!” (a word signifying the attainment of enlightenment.)

    Shoro, died April 1894, at age 80
    Pampas grass, now dry,
    once bent this way
    and that.

    Sunao, died in 1926 at 39
    Spitting blood
    clears up reality
    and dream alike.

    Senryu, died September 23, 1790, at 73
    Bitter winds of winter —
    but later, river willow,
    open up your buds.

    Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77
    Empty-handed I entered the world
    Barefoot I leave it.
    My coming, my going —
    Two simple happenings
    That got entangled.

    A few days before his death, Kozan called his pupils together, ordered them to bury him without ceremony, and forbade them to hold services in his memory. He wrote this poem on the morning of his death, laid down his brush and died sitting upright.

    Senryu, died June 2, 1827
    Like dew drops
    on a lotus leaf
    I vanish.

    Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49

    O
    During his last moment, Shisui’s followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died.

    The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism. It indicates void — the essence of all things — and enlightenment.

    ——–

    Nothing remains
    Of the house that I was born in–
    Fireflies.
    Santoka

  20. lessonslearnedthehardway says:

    My grandfather died 9 days before my 18th birthday, and 2 days before my high school graduation. I did not attend my graduation to spend more time with my family and to go to his funeral. I regret not spending more time with him while he was alive, and it is going to take me a lot of time to heal.
    I leave you with these two quotes:

    “It is extremely hard to let go of regret when the other person involved is dead.”

    “Spend as much time as you can with those you love the most because you never know when they will die. Whatever you do, do not take them for granted. You will regret it, and you will live with that for the rest of your life, like me.”

  21. soaringdragons says:

    Thank you for sharing. Some of life’s lessons are very hard. Lessons.

    I wish you well, and wish you peace.

  22. melissa says:

    Thanks for the invitation to be part of this.

    i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
    my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
    i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing, my darling)

    i fear
    no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
    no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
    higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

    ~ e. e. cummings

  23. soaringdragons says:

    e.e. cummings has heart! What a wonderful choice, thank you!

  24. ohhchristine says:

    I never knew that I’d find my greatest peace in my greatest fear..

  25. sillionshine says:

    Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art:
    I warm’d both hands before the fire of life; It sinks, and I am ready to depart.” — Walter Savage Landor
    I also read of a gravestone which was written in Latin I think, addressed to the reader,something along the lines of:
    ‘I was once as you are, you will one day be as I am’ – quite poetic and poignant.
    As for myself, when confronted with the final moment, either something corny like:
    ‘If I have loved and was loved, I have already conquered eternity’
    but probably more in keeping with my procrastinating ways:
    ‘Finally, what I have always wanted – all the time in the world’

  26. “Wait…I wasn’t finished.”

  27. Kate Swaffer says:

    Hello Soaring Dragons… I came across this goal of yours via Chris Galvin, and am glad I did as wish to contribute to this interesting idea!

    My last comment might be;

    “I have loved being alive, and hope you will remember me as a nice person”,

    and my poem about death is this;

    Last breath

    Remember when the time comes
    To breathe in very deep
    Take my very last breath
    And make it your own

    (Kate Swaffer © 2012)

    • soaringdragons says:

      Dear Kate, Thanks for your comment! I live in China so I haven’t been able to access my WordPress blog for the last two years! It makes it hard for me to keep up, so I do other things! Cheers, Ray Cooprider (soaringdragons)

      When I die, I want to go peacefully like my Grandfather did, in his sleep — not screaming, like the passengers in his car. (Lee Dawson, English commediene 1934-1993) In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. (Yogi Berra) Honey, you gotta pick a race first. All of a sudden you’re a black man, then you’re Diana Ross, now you’re Audrey Hepburn. Then he’s got the little beard going on. He’s like Lord Of The Rings, the entire cast. Michael’s about to jump species. (Robin Williams) In awe I watched the waxing moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered chariot towards the ebony void of infinite space wherein the tethered belts of Jupiter and Mars hang forever festooned in their orbital majesty. And as I looked at all this I thought…I must put a roof on this lavatory. (Lee Dawson)

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