Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960


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in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

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Death, Dying, Grief, and Mourning

in Western Literature


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John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1674

Edited by Gordon Teskey Harvard University, 2005

Death of the Redeemer

Death of the Redeemer:

Book Twelve; 386 – 465

To whom thus Michael: Dream not of their fight

As of a duel or the local wounds

Of head or heel. Not therefore joins the Son

Manhood to God head with more strength to foil

Thy enemy nor so is overcome

Satan, whose fall from Heav’n — a deadlier bruise —

Disabled not to give thee thy death’s wound,

Which he who comes thy Savior shall recure

Not by destroying Satan, but his works

In thee and in thy seed. Nor can this be

But by fulfilling that which thou didst want:

Obedience to the Law of God imposed

On penalty of death, and suffering death,

The penalty to thy transgressions due,

And due to theirs which out of thine will grow —

So only can high justice rest apaid.

The Law of God exact He shall fulfill

Both by obedience and by love, through love

Alone fulfill the Law. Thy punishment

He shall endure by coming in the flesh

To a reproachful life and cursed death,

Proclaiming life to all who shall believe

In his Redemption and that his obedience

Imputed becomes theirs by faith, his merits

To save them, not their own, though Legal works.

For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,

Seized on by force, judged and to death condemned,

A shameful and accurst, nailed to the cross

By his own nation, slain for bringing life.

But to the cross he nails thy enemies:

The Law that is against thee and the sins

Of all mankind with him there crucified,

Never to hurt them more who rightly trust

In this his satisfaction. So he dies

But soon revives: Death over him no pow’r

Shall long usurp. Ere the third dawning light

Return the Stars of morn shall see him rise

Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,

Thy ransom paid which Man from death redeems,

His death for Man: as many as offered life

Neglect not and the benefit embrace

By faith not void of works. This godlike act

Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldst have died

In sin forever lost from life. This act

Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,

Defeating Sin and Death, his two main arms,

And fix far deeper in his head their stings

Than temporal death shall bruise the Victor’s heel

Or theirs whom he redeems, a death like sleep,

A gentle wafting to immortal life.

Nor after Resurrection shall he stay

Longer on Earth than certain times t’appear

To his disciples, men who in his life

Still followed him. To them shall leave in charge

To teach all nations what of him they learned

And his salvation, them who shall believe

Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign

Of washing them from guilt of sin to life

Pure, and in mind prepared, if so befall,

For death like that which the Redeemer died.

All nations they shall teach, for from that day

Not only to the sons of Abraham’s loins

Salvation shall be preached but to the sons

Of Abraham’s faith wherever through the world:

So in his Seed all nations shall be blest.

Then to the Heav’n of Heav’ns he shall ascend

With victory triumphing through the air

Over his foes and thine; there shall surprise

The Serpent, Prince of Air, and drag in chains

Through all his realm and there confounded leave,

Then enter into glory and resume

His seat at God’s right hand, exalted high

Above all names in Heav’n, and thence shall come

When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe

With glory and pow’r to judge both quick and dead:

To judge th’ unfaithful dead but to reward

His faithful and receive them into bliss,

Whether in Heav’n or Earth, for then the Earth

Shall all be Paradise, far happier place

Than this of Eden, and far happier days.


Adrienne Nater, 2008

©© 2008 Adrienne Nater. All rights reserved.