Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

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

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960


   Search Site


in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

 • Home •  • Preface • • Introduction •  • Chronology •  • Index •  • About the Author •


Death, Dying, Grief, and Mourning

in Western Literature


Printable Page


Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, 1726


Burial Rites
Manner of Burial

Chapter IX – Their Manner of Burial:

If they can avoid Casualties, they die of old Age, and are buried in the obscurest Places that can be found, their Friends and Relations expressing neither Joy nor Grief at their Departure; nor does the dying Person discover the least Regret that he is leaving the World, any more than if he were upon returning home from a Visit to one of his Neighbors: I remember, my Master having once made an appointment with a Friend and his Family to come to his House upon some Affair of Importance; on the Day fixed, the Mistress and her two Children came very late; she made two Excuses, first for her Husband, who, as she said, happened that very Morning to Lhnuwnh. The Word is strongly expressive in their language, but not rendered in English; it signifies, to retire to his first Mother. Her Excuse for not coming sooner, was, that her Husband dying late in the Morning, she was a good while consulting with her Servants about a convenient Place where his Body should be laid; and I observed she behaved herself at our House, as cheerfully as the rest: She died about three Months after.

They live generally to Seventy or Seventy-five Years, very seldom to Fourscore: Some Weeks before their Death they feel a gradual Decay, but without Pain. During this time they are much visited by their Friends, because they cannot go abroad with their usual Ease and Satisfaction. However, about ten Days before their Death, which they seldom fail in computing, they return the Visits that have been made by those who are nearest in the Neighborhood, being carried in a convenient Sledge drawn by Yahoos; which Vehicle they use, not only upon this occasion, but when they grow old, upon long Journey, or when they are lamed by any Accident. And therefore when the dying Houyhnhnms return those Visits, they take a solemn Leave of their Friends, as if they were going to some remote Part of the Country, where they designed to pass the rest of their Lives


Adrienne Nater, 2008

©© 2008 Adrienne Nater. All rights reserved.