William Cullen Bryant's Thanatopsis represents his view of life and death, and, in light of this, how we should live our lives and prepare ourselves for death. The beginning of his poem tells us not to fret over death and anticipate the horrors that it might possibly hold. He encourages us, that when we do begin to feel this way, to go outside and see how nature is strong, constant, and seemingly infinite, just as the reality of death is constant and unchanging. He convinces us that we are all going to die, no matter what our social or economic status, and that we will all eventually pass on and return to the earth. He then, in his concluding lines, tells us how to approach our encroaching death.
He suggests to the reader that we should feel death, but not fear it. We all know that the day will come, so with this expectation, we should live each day as though it were our last and strive to be as holy as possible. Thus living as Christ, we will have nothing to fear as far as our salvation, and can approach death in a positive light as if we were anticipating to "
lie down to pleasant dreams".
I really enjoyed Bryant's imagery and his mater of fact presentation of life and the conclusion of life. If I were to write my own meditation on death and how to approach it, I would like to be as clear as he. I don't believe that I would use some of the gruesome details of nature, such as "The Oak shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould" as he did, even though they are accurate facts, but rather present death as more of a peaceful reward for living a good life.
I see life on earth as the middle of infinity. A brief testing period between the times when God knew our souls before we were knit in our mother's wombs and the afterlife to come. Death then, in my opinion, is that final examination of how you have lived your life and how you have taken advantage of the opportunities that God has given to you. I would like to present,...
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