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The Final Crossing

Death and Dying in Literature


Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett

Since ancient times, writers and poets have grappled with death, dying, grief, and mourning in their works. The Final Crossing: Death and Dying in Literature compiles fifteen in-depth, scholarly, and original essays on death and dying in literature from around the globe and from different time periods. Written from a variety of critical perspectives, the essays target both scholars and serious students. Death and dying is an important area of study for a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, gerontology, medical ethics, healthcare science, health law, and literary studies. The Final Crossing is a landmark compendium of academic essays on death and dying in literary texts, such as the Iliad, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, Hamlet, The Secret Garden, and The Grapes of Wrath. This collection of essays not only brings an international flavor, but also a unique angularity to the discourse on thanatology. The novelty of perspectives reflects the diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds of the contributors. This diversity opens up a fresh conversation on a number of age-old questions related to «the final crossing.» In this volume, readers will find an intriguing array of topics for further reflection and research.
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Chapter Two: “Mouthed Graves Will Give Thee Memory”: Burial Sites and Poetic Immortality in Renaissance Verse


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“Mouthed Graves Will Give Thee Memory”

Burial Sites and Poetic Immortality in Renaissance Verse



A person’s tomb or grave serves as a marker of the individual’s existence on earth. To those still living, burial sites serve as material reminders of a deceased person’s time among the living. Graves and tombs remain in the material world long after an individual’s passing, and serve as testaments to an individual’s existence. Burial sites also serve as ideal motifs for poets to reflect on the subject of death and the transience of life. In eighteenth-century England, a group of poets became known for their verses that were centered on the locale of burial sites.

The subject of these poets’ work meditated extensively on death and the transience of life set against backdrops of graves and tombs. As Edward Young writes in Night Thoughts (1742–45),

How populous? How vital, is the Grave!

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