Stanzas about the Death of his Father by Jorge Manrique
OH let the soul her slumbers break,
Let thought be quickened, and awake;
Awake to see
How soon this life is past and gone,
And death comes softly stealing on,
Swiftly our pleasures glide away,
Our hearts recall the distant day
With many sighs;
The moments that are speeding fast
We heed not, but the past,—the past,
More highly prize.
El Alma Dormida (The Sleeping Soul) is a photograph taken by Cristina Garcia Rodero in 1981 in Savedra, Spain. As Garcia Rodero was traveling around the country photographing Spanish festivals and traditions, she came across this little girl singing and jumping in front of the cemetery and quickly pulled out her camera. Now the moment is immortalized in this mysterious photograph. The title is inspired by the poem Coplas por la Muerte de su Padre by Jorge Manrique
By Julio Cortazar
Death stands there in the background, but don’t be afraid. Hold the watch down with one hand, take the stem in two fingers, and rotate it smoothly. Now another installment of time opens, trees spread their leaves, boats run races, like a fan time continues filling with itself, and from that burgeon the air, the breezes of earth, the shadow of a woman, the sweet smell of bread.
What did you expect, what more do you want? Quickly. strap it to your wrist, let it tick away in freedom, imitate it greedily. Fear will rust all the rubies, everything that could happen to it and was forgotten is about to corrode the watch’s veins, cankering the cold blood and its tiny rubies. And death is there in the background, we must run to arrive beforehand and understand it’s already unimportant.
Here some roses from a very different garden sit?, lie?, stand?, gasp, dream?, die? – on white linen. They may serve you tea or coffee. As I saw them take shape on the canvas I was amazed by their solemn colors and their quiet mystery that called for – seemed to demand – some sort of phantoms. So I tried to give them their phantoms and their still-lifeness. Did I succeed? Clearly they are not going to tell me, but the white linen gave me a good feeling as if I had folded it myself, then opened it on the table.
(Dorothea Tanning: Birthday and Beyond, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia Museum of Art 2000, n.p.)
“There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Millais‘ emblematic representation of Shakespeare’s Ophelia recreated through the ages:
“Lay her i’ the earth:
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!”
A Carnival costume by the legendary Trinidadian Carnival artist Peter Minshall, also known as Mas Man.
Click here to read about him in the Caribbean Beat magazine.
In this painting, as well as others, Frida’s preoccupation with death is revealed. In real life Frida did have a papier-mâché skeleton (Juda) on the canopy of her bed. Diego called it “Frida’s lover” but Frida said it was just an amusing reminder of mortality. Frida and the skeleton both lie on their side with two pillows under their head. While Frida sleeps the skeleton is awake and watching. The bed appears to ascend into the clouds and the embroidered vines on her bedspread seem to come to life and begin to entwine with her body. The roots at the foot of the bed appear to have been pulled out of the ground. The skeleton’s body is entwined with wires and explosives that at any moment could go off… making Frida’s dream of death a stark reality. In this painting and in others, Frida uses the “Life/Death” theme…the plants representing the rebirth of life and the skeleton representing death.
Text from FridaKahloFans
In her performance piece Nude with Skeleton, Serbian artist Marina Abramović uses a replica skeleton to symbolize confrontation with death. The work refers in part to an ancient Tibetan tradition in which Buddhist monks meditate on life, death and mortality by sleeping with skeletons of various stages of decomposition on consecutive nights. Abramović explains, ‘The work is really about facing your own mortality. It’s something that in our life we fear the most. It is about fear of pain and fear of dying”
by Anne Sexton
It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.
By Sylvia Plath
The woman is perfected.
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.