BK American Lit. Reading Group discussion

This topic is about Thanatopsis

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Jordan St. Stier | 71 comments Mod
This is about Thanatopsis, the poem by William Cullen Bryant.

Jordan St. Stier | 71 comments Mod
Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again

Jordan St. Stier | 71 comments Mod
'Thanatopsis' comes from the Greek for Death 'Thanatos' (compare Thanos from pop culture) and 'Opsis' (think Optics and Ophthalmology).

(Thanat-os)+(Opsis)= Thanatopsis, or View of Death.

Jordan St. Stier | 71 comments Mod
Lines 1-2
וְזָרַ֥ח הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ וּבָ֣א הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְאֶ֨ל־מְקוֹמ֔וֹ שׁוֹאֵ֛ף זוֹרֵ֥חַֽ ה֖וּא שָֽׁם
The sun rises, and the sun sets— And glides back to where it rises.
-Ecc. 1:5
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
-Cymbeline IV.2
Life comes from the earth and life returns to the earth
-from the Zhuangzi

Jordan St. Stier | 71 comments Mod
-The beginning takes place in the hour of death, hence 'view of death' from the title, with the opening musing on returning to nature, and then shifts to describing the feeling of death, using incredibly vivid imagery.

-'Spirit and Sad Images': reminiscing over life, regretting, &c.,
'Thoughts of the Last Bitter Hour come like a blight'.
-'Breathless Darkness', 'Narrow House': Failing body, inability to see, breathe, feel, losing senses. 'Narrow house' perhaps coffin?
-Theme: Death is impending, or is, perhaps, the speaker anxious, justifying, or fantasizing about death? Timor Mortis Conturbat Me?
-'Thy pale form was laid'?- Has burial already occurred?
-'Surrendering up': human achievement is futile (unless, apparently, you are the founder of a world religion, and apparently, Jerusalem (Psalm 137)
-'All beholding sun': Nature's superiority, refer to the first comment.
-'Barcan Wilderness': Saharan Desert, two main types of sand dunes: Barcan (only one wind direction, bare) and Transverse (Barcans aligned perpendicular to wind)
-'The Oregon': Columbia River
-In the end, the theme is 'return to dust' (or in this case, sand), as contemplating the fact of death and confronting the fear of being deceased.

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