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by Andrew Dodsworth
Who wrote the following deathly passages?
1. The World a Hunting is,
The prey, poore Man, the Nimrod fierce is Death,
His speedy Grey-hounds are
Lust, Sicknesse, Envie, Care,
Strife that ne’er falls amisse,
With all those ills which haunt us while we breathe.
Now if (by chance) wee flie
Of these the eager Chase,
Old Age with stealing Pace
Casts up his Nets, and there wee panting die.
2. Thy Beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try
That long preserv’d Virginity:
And your quaint Honour turn to dust;
And into ashes all my Lust.
The Grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
3. Therefore now at thy feet I abide for a season in silence. I know I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep; even so. For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span; A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man. So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep. For there is no God found stronger than death; and death is a sleep.
4. “The fact is, our Normal Civil Death side is controlled by a Being who considers himself all that I am and more. He’s Death as men have made him – in their own image.” He pointed to a brazen plate, by the side of a black-curtained door, which read‘Normal Civil Death, K.G., K.T., K.P., P.C., etc.’ “He’s as human as mankind.” “I guessed as much from those letters. What do they mean?” “Titles conferred on him from time to time. King of Ghosts; King of Terrors; King of Phantoms; Pallid Conqueror, and so forth. There’s no denying he’s earned every one of them. A first-class mind, but just a leetle bit of a sn-”
5. What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.
Even if you don’t know all of them, send the names of those authors you can identify to: Literary Death Quiz, Philosophy Now, 25 Blandfield Road, London SW12 8BQ, UK, by 1 August 2000. The prizes are (i) A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (ii) Beyond Evolution by Anthony O’Hear. Please indicate which you would prefer!