What are some quotes and examples from "Thanatopsis" that help to establish the organic cycle in the poem?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The organic cycle of nature is something that is one of the central themes of this poem, as thoughts of death are measured by the way that death returns us to Nature that gave us birth in the first place. Note the role of Earth in this process:

Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim

Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,

And, lost each human trace, surrendering up

Thine individual being, shalt thou go

To mix forever with the elements,

To be a brother to the insensible rock...

The image of what happens to us when we die becomes clear. In death, the earth, which "nourished" us and gave us life, claims us and we become "earth again," mixing with the elements and becoming brother to nature, symbolised in the "insensible rock." Our individual being is surrendered, but we are not alone, as "all that breathe" share this destiny. Death and life is described therefore as a strictly organic process, as we are born and sustained by nature and earth, and then return to it, becoming one with nature once again when we die.

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