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by William Cullen Bryant

Thanatopsis Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Do you think death is scary? Is it something we should be afraid of or not?
  2. Is this a religious poem? Do you think people would respond to it differently depending on their religious outlook?
  3. Is there anything comforting about this poem? Did it work for you? Do you feel better about death knowing that everyone else is going to die too?
  4. Have you ever felt like you were in "communion" with nature? Can you remember a moment in the outdoors when you felt completely at peace with the world? If so, where and when was it?
  5. Listen to Blue Oyster Cult’s "(Don’t Fear) the Reaper." It’s got the same idea, right? Can you think of other songs that have a similar message to "Thanatopsis."
  6. Why do you think the speaker personifies nature as a woman? What effect does this have on you as you read the poem?

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