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by W.H. Auden

Death Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral: (3-6)

This is the beginning of the speaker's focus on death. He notes that nothing lasts forever: children grow up and lose their beauty, and everyone dies eventually.

Quote #2

But in my arms til break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty but to me
The entirely beautiful. (7-10)

By referring to his sleeping beloved as a "living creature," we're reminded of the fact that, one day, he will not be living. The speaker then goes on to call him "mortal;" just another reminder that we will all die some day.

Quote #3

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell, (21-23)

Here the speaker includes symbols of time passing – a clock and a bell – which have the effect of reminding us that time is always passing.

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