Mortality Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 117 quotes )
Mortality is a school of suffering and trials. We are here that we may be educated in a school of suffering and of fiery trials, which school was necessary for Jesus, our Elder Brother, who, the scriptures tell us,?was made perfect through suffering? It is necessary that we suffer in all things, that we may be qualified and worthy to rule, and govern all things, even as our Father in Heaven and His eldest son, Jesus.
She dealt her pretty words like Blades --How glittering they shone --And every One unbared a Nerve. Or wantoned with a Bone --She never deemed -- she hurt --That -- is not Steel's Affair --A vulgar grimace in the Flesh --How ill the Creatures bear --To Ache is human -- not polite --The Film upon the eye. Mortality's old Custom --Just locking up -- to Die.
Whatever became of the momentwhen one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood, when it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling... with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one directionand time is its only measure." -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
The story of my recent life.' I like that phrase. It makes more sense than 'the story of my life', because we get so many lives between birth and death. A life to be a child. A life to come of age. A life to wander, to settle, to fall in love, to parent, to test our promise, to realize our mortality- and in some lucky cases, to do something after that realization.
Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions. Germanic traincar constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy". I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.
Beneath the face of anyone you ever loved for true - anyone you love, you will always love, love is not at the mercy of time and it does not recognize death, they are strangers to each other - beneath the face of the beloved, however ancient, ruined, and scarred, is the face of the baby your love once was, and will always be, for you. Love serves, then, if memory doesn't, and passion, apart from its tense relation to agony, labors beneath the shadow of death. Passion is terrifying, it can rock you, change you, bring your head under, as when a wind rises from the bottom of the sea, and you're out there in the craft of your mortality, alone.
We are left with nothing but death, the irreducible fact of our own mortality. Death after a long illness we can accept with resignation. Even accidental death we can ascribe to fate. But for a man to die of no apparent cause, for a man to die simply because he is a man, brings us so close to the invisible boundary between life and death that we no longer know which side we are on. Life becomes death, and it is as if this death has owned this life all along. Death without warning. Which is to say: life stops. And it can stop at any moment.
The antithetical or perhaps mirror image to sadness is the experience, similarly unique to one's late years, of a swift, mysterious wave of happiness, also causeless, but of much shorter duration. I cannot remember a time, before my sixties, when the consciousness of happiness would sweep over me and, like a shower of cold water when one is desperately overheated, offer me a passing sensation very close to glee. Both sadness and fleeting happiness relate, I think, to mortality, to the consciousness of being old and of nearing the end of life. . . these sensations . . . surge up from the unconscious, to be a gift of long life or fortunate old age. Both sadness and happiness, but sadness more, are related to the fact that nothing of all this will endure for long. [p. 179]
The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition. (Written in 1949, 22 years before the World Trade Center was completed.)
See the hand that nursed the serpent. The fine hasped pipes of her fingerbones. The skin bewenned and speckled. The veins are milkblue and bulby. A thin gold ring set with diamonds. That raised the once child's heart of her to agonies of passion before I was. Here is the anguish of mortality. Hopes wrecked, love sundered. See the mother sorrowing. How everything that I was warned of's come to pass.
Could it be because it reminds us that we are alive, of our mortality, of our individual souls- which, after all, we are too afraid to surrender but yet make us feel more miserable than any other thing? But isn't it also pain that often makes us most aware of self? It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one's burned tongues and skinned knees, that one's aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow old, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that's why we're so anxious to lose them, don't you think?
When the Creator banished from his sight Frail man to dark mortality's abode, And granted him a late return to light, Only by treading reason's arduous road,— When each immortal turned his face away, She, the compassionate, alone Took up her dwelling in that house of clay, With the deserted, banished one. With drooping wing she hovers here Around her darling, near the senses' land, And on his prison-walls so drear Elysium paints with fond deceptive hand. While soft humanity still lay at rest, Within her tender arms extended, No flame was stirred by bigots' murderous zest, No guiltless blood on high ascended. The heart that she in gentle fetters binds, Views duty's slavish escort scornfully; Her path of light, though fairer far it winds, Sinks in the sun-track of morality. Those who in her chaste service still remain, No grovelling thought can tempt, no fate affright; The spiritual life, so free from stain, Freedom's sweet birthright, they receive again, Under the mystic sway of holy might.
When that slow-motion, silent explosion of love takes place in me, unfolding its melting fringes and overwhelming me with the sense of something much vaster, much more enduring and powerful than the accumulation of matter or energy in any imaginable cosmos, then my mind cannot but pinch itself to see if it is really awake. I have to make a rapid inventory of the universe, just as a man in a dream tries to condone the absurdity of his position by making sure he is dreaming. I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love, so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me to fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence.
I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again. I was seventeen years old, and all of a sudden, without the slightest flicker of a doubt, I understood that my life was my own, that it belonged to me and no one else. I’m talking about freedom, Fogg. A sense of despair that becomes so great, so crushing, so catastrophic, that you have no choice but to be liberated by it. That’s the only choice, or else you crawl into a corner and die.
The pale Ushe?threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
Such a thing as the child left alone to die in the hallway was unknown on the marsh. But here, in the dawn, was mortality itself. In the city were places to fall from which one could never emerge -- dark dreams and slow death, the death of children, suffering without grace or redemption, ultimate and eternal loss. The memory of the child stayed with him. But that was not to be the end of it, for reality went around in a twisting ring. Even the irredeemable would be redeemed, and there was a balance for everything. There had to be.
As I thought of these things, I drew aside the curtains and looked out into the darkness, and it seemed to my troubled fancy that all those little points of light filling the sky were the furnaces of innumerable divine alchemists, who labour continually, turning lead into gold, weariness into ecstasy, bodies into souls, the darkness into God; and at their perfect labour my mortality grew heavy, and I cried out, as so many dreamers and men of letters in our age have cried, for the birth of that elaborate spiritual beauty which could alone uplift souls weighted with so many dreams.
I believed in belief, for its own shining sake. To believe in the face of utter hopelessness, every article of evidence to the contrary, to ignore apparent catastrophe - what other choice was there? We are so much stronger than we imagine, and belief is one of the most valiant and long-lived human characteristics. To believe, when all along we humans know that nothing can cure the briefness of this life, that there is no remedy for our basic mortality, that is a form of bravery. To continue believing in yourself...believing in whatever I chose to believe in, that was the most important thing.