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William Cullen Bryant's Thanatopsis is a poem meaning "a vision of death". The verse centers around the musings of life as death grows near. Bryant refers not only to death but the trappings of a funeral in the poem.
Unlike many death poems, Bryant does not refer to death as a person but personifies Nature in a feminine form. She "has a voice of gladness" and "eloquence of beauty", but she glides into his "darker musings". The first death vision is here. The musings are tied with the "last bitter hour," to form the vision of death.
Additional references point to the physical appointment of death. The "narrow house" is a reference to a coffin and the grave is shown by the "sun shall see no more." Bryant continues to state the world will continue without the departed. The "gay will laugh", and the "brood...plod on." However, he also notes they will join the departed in death as well. This is a reminder no one escapes death.
As the poem concludes, Bryant is assuring the reader the vision of death should not be feared but it should be "sustained and soothed" because the world will continue and will also go to death. Death is part of life and brings about the "mysterious realm, where each shall take/His chamber".
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