Writing Rings Around Death

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

It would make an interesting calculation for some graduate student in English literature to figure out, since the introduction of the written word, how many poems have been written about death. Even without a definitive answer to this question, it is obvious that poetry and death have a long history together. Perhaps it is because, when nothing else is left us, when we have run out of remedies and medicines and interventions, we still have words. They offer only an imperfect resistance to the inevitability of our own annihilation, but since they are all we have, we wield them as best we may.

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