I have been thinking for a while about the fear of death. Many people mention to me how terrified they are of death, and I know this is common. Some college students recently asked me about dying, and questions about what I was most scared of were at the forefront.
But I don’t share this fear myself, and I couldn’t quite grasp the substance of it. Then Carmine Starnino brought this poem by Philip Larkin to my attention. It articulates that fear so sharply, so painfully. (Warning: this poem is very bleak!)
More accurately than fear, what I think this poem articulates is a dread of death. This I can understand, even though I don’t feel it. To so intensely not want to be deprived, all at once, of every single thing we cherish, including our very selves, but be powerless to avoid it–this is to dread death.
If you think this poem doesn’t quite express your own fear of death, I would love to hear from you!