Memento Mori, a reminder of our own impending death, is an important theme of Lent …
As we remember on Ash Wednesday, and throughout Lent, humanity goes from ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
We remember our mortality with five poems for Lent on the theme of memento mori … Including poems by Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Mary Szybist, MORE
While that my soul repairs to her devotion,
Here I intomb my flesh, that it betimes
May take acquaintance of this heap of dust;
To which the blast of death’s incessant motion,
Fed with the exhalation of our crimes,
Drives all at last. Therefore I gladly trust
My body to this school, that it may learn
To spell his elements, and find his birth
Written in dusty heraldry and lines ;
Which dissolution sure doth best discern,
Comparing dust with dust, and earth with earth.
These laugh at jet, and marble put for signs,
To sever the good fellowship of dust,
And spoil the meeting. What shall point out them,
When they shall bow, and kneel, and fall down flat
To kiss those heaps, which now they have in trust?
Dear flesh, while I do pray, learn here thy stem
And true descent: that when thou shalt grow fat,
And wanton in thy cravings, thou mayst know,
That flesh is but the glass, which holds the dust
That measures all our time; which also shall
Be crumbled into dust. Mark, here below,
How tame these ashes are, how free from lust,
That thou mayst fit thyself against thy fall.
IMAGE CREDIT: Memento Mori “To This Favour”, oil on canvas painting by William Michael Harnett, 1879, Cleveland Museum of Art
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