“Death” by William Bell Scott

¨  I am the one whose thought
Is as the deed; I have no brother, and
         No father; years
Have never seen my power begin. A chain
Doth bind all things to me. In my hand, man,–
Infinite thinker,–vanishes as doth
The worm that he creates, as doth the moth
That it creates, as doth the limb minute
That stirs upon that moth. My being is
         Inborn with all things, and
         With all things doth expand.

¨          But fear me not; I am
The hoary dust, the shut ear, the profound,
         The deep of night,
When Nature’s universal heart doth cease
To beat; communicating nothing; dark
And tongueless, negative of all things. Yet
Fear me not, man; I am the blood that flows
Within thee,–I am change; and it is I
Creates a joy within thee, when thou feel’st
Manhood and new untried superior powers
Rising before thee: I it is can make
         Old things give place
         To thy free race.

¨        All things are born for me.
His father and his mother,–yet man hates
         Me foolishly.
An easy spirit and a free lives on,
But he who fears the ice doth stumble.Walk
Straight onward peacefully,–I am a friend
Will pass thee graciously: but grudge and weep
And cark,–I’ll be a cold chain around thy neck
Into the grave, each day a link drawn in,
Until thy face shall be upon the turf,
         And the hair from thy crown
         Be blown like thistle-down “


General idea: In this poem, there is a personification of Death and it explains his virtues and why we shouldn’t live our lives in fear of him. His point is basically that death is an intrical and inescapable part of life, high and low, and that if we spend our lives trying to avoid or stave off death our efforts will mean that we avoid actually living our lives and ultimately death will catch up with all of us anyway.


Death is a part of who we are. It is not death itself but our attitude towards it that he creates our fears.  



First stanza:

  It tells the reader clearly that death is the voice ”In my hand, man,–
Infinite thinker,–vanishes”


Second stanza:

  Death orders us not to fear it, thanks to it we can experience change, and superior powers. “I am change; and it is I
Creates a joy within thee, when thou feel’st
Manhood and new untried superior powers”


Third stanza:

  Death tells us that we live thanks to it, we should be friends with it. As time goes by we’re closer to it, so we should embrace it, if we do, death won’t be a problem, we will get to live peacefully as we walk towards death. If we fear death, we will live our lives with fear, and it will become a burden: “Walk
Straight onward peacefully,–I am a friend
Will pass thee graciously: but grudge and weep
And cark,–I’ll be a cold chain around thy neck
Into the grave, each day a link drawn in”


Language: death is personified and it is having a conversation with the reader.

Adresse: every human.

Enjambment: this literary device portrays the poem as disorganized and messy to symbolize the human mind and ideas.

Rhyme:  And the hair from thy crown
         Be blown like thistle-down. The rhyme is used to help the reader to remember


Imagery: “but who fears the eyes doth stumble. Walk / straight downward peacefully, -I am a friend / Will pass graciously: but grudge and weep / and cark, -I’ll be a cold chain round the neck”. This quote shows what death will mean to those who fear it.


Imagery is description using the five senses. Some of the images in this poem include comparing man to a moth, a creature that has only a short time on earth, while death is likened to “hoary dust,” sleep, the dark and blood. People who fear and worry about death are compared to those who fear walking on ice and as a result stumble. In the final line, the hair of the dead is likened to “thistle down,” suggesting it is growing up out of the grave as the body returns to nature.



Worshiping death
Relation to familial ties









Stanza one- ominous, dark, powerful, mysterious
Stanza two- comforting, making an appeal
Stanza three- warning, cautionary, advisory


Clearly this is focused on death, positioning it in terms of being eternal, inescapable, but at the same time as something that gives us freedom and releases us from the strains of life as the ultimate sleep.


The poet’s striking words

Vanishes– indicates the nature of death as very swift. ‘Vanishes’ is used as a hyperbole to stress upon the nature of death.

Inborn– Death is part and parcel of us . It’s effect is that it urges readers to accept Death as natural as much as we fear it.

Hoary dust– Hoary expresses the color connotation of death by William .B .Scott. Death is greyish white in short. This greyish white color ,in comparison with dust , symbolizes ashes which is related to death and paints out the scary nature of death to the reader.

¨Expand– shows death just keeps on evolving, is intermittent and will just keep on claiming lives .To a reader this usage of the word “expand” indicates that death will keep expanding in his or her eyes till the reader himself is  consumed by it.

¨The shut ear– Indicative of the silent nature of death .It comes swiftly and goes away swiftly as well.


Scott Bell:

The man had a simple life, he was an intelligent artist and poet. He married Letitia Margery Norquoy, they had a childless marriage. We readers can think that he wrote this poem because he had a simple life (compared with other artists), so he believed that maybe his purpose in the world was to die.



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