Sunday, 19 May 2013

Death, Thou Shalt Die - Last Photos

With the net overflowing with image collections of every form and fashion, the Tale of Sir Bob has given these a wide berth. However, traditions are there to be broken, and by presenting this collection of photos, being the last known photos taken of well-known people alive, this departure from my own beaten path seems justified.

However, true to the blog's own particular idiom, this is not merely a cavalcade of sombre photos. John Donne, the English Renaissance poet, probably wrote his Holy Sonnet X in 1609 and it was published in 1633, two years after his death. This Petrarchan sonnet is one of the most moving and consoling poetic reactions to death in existence, and beautifully accompanies and complements these pictures.

There is something tremendously poignant about this collection of photos. Knowing that the people in the photos had sometimes only minutes left to live, makes one appreciate the enormous value of human life and the privilege of experiencing that of others. There is also a sad beauty to the transitory nature of life, and seeing these outstanding human beings; artists, politicians, athletes and more at their last should remind us to live life to the fullest.

Or as Oscar Wilde put it through his character Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray: "make life burn with the hardest flame."

Abraham Lincoln, 1865

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so, 

Mark Twain, 1910, Amelia Earhart, 1939,
Anne Frank and Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1945

For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

Mahatma Gandhi and Babe Ruth, 1948
Albert Einstein and James Dean, 1955

For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, 
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 

Marilyn Monroe, 1962, John F. Kennedy, 1963
Jim Morrison, 1971 and Martin Luther King Jr., 1968

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be 
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, 

Jimi Hendrix, 1976, Elvis Presley, 1977,
Keith Moon, 1978 and John Lennon, 1980

And soonest our best men with thee do go, 
Rest of their bones, and souls' delivery.

Bob Marley, 1981, Freddie Mercury, 1991,
Kurt Cobain, 1994 and Tupac Shakur 1996

Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, 
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, 

 George Harrison, 2001, Ronald Reagan, 2004,
Heath Ledger, 2008 and Steve Jobs 2011

And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well, 
And better then thy stroke; why swell'st thou then; 

One short sleep past, we wake eternally, 
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die

Sources: as given and Pics

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