Norseman: A gracious mother calling her children home
Shakespeare: Life is transient, the afterlife preferable
Seneca: Life is only short if you waste it
Eternity: it is

Once you are dead; death ceases to exist.

Photo by Weird Sly Kip taken in a basswood and oak forest about an hour outside Ottawa one cold winter morning as he was going for a walk with his border collie “Nelly”

John Muir’s Norseman

“The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang–home-going.  So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil.

Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s arms …

All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried.  Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast–all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love.

Yet all are our brothers and sisters and they enjoy life as we do, share heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity …

Death is a kind nurse saying, “Come, children, to bed and get up in the morning”–a gracious Mother calling her children home.”

By John Muir

Found at

Shakespeare on “taking leave

Act 5 Scene 2 of Anthony and Cleopatra

Mark Antony is dead, Cleopatra’s lifelong servants are dead and Octavius is marching to capture Cleopatra, planning to parade her through the streets to make an example of his conquest. Cleopatra has decided to end her own life. After watching her servant die quickly she concludes if you can part with life so easily, the world is not worth saying goodbye to, the afterlife is infinitely preferable..

“If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch,
Which hurts, and is desired…
If thus thou vanishes, thou tells the world
It is not worth leave-taking.”

Seneca on the shortness of life

Seneca (1 BCE – CE 65) was Nero’s tutor and advisers. Seneca was charged with complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy and compelled to commit suicide in 65.


So when the universe was quickened with soul, God was well pleased; and he bethought him to make it yet more like its type. And whereas the type is eternal and nought that is created can be eternal, he devised for it a moving image of abiding eternity, which we call time. And he made days and months and years, which are portions of time; and past and future are forms of time, though we wrongly attribute them also to eternity. For of eternal Being we ought not to say ‘it was’, ‘it shall be’, but ‘it is’ alone: and in like manner we are wrong in saying ‘it is’ of sensible things which become and perish; for these are ever fleeting and changing, having their existence in time.

Plato, Timaeus (ca. 360 BC)

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Grape brambles in the spring percola at the Poetical Asylum

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