from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • proper n. The title of a poem by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), meditating on the subject of death. One of Bryant's best-remembered poems, it was written in 1811 and was discovered and rushed to publication in 1817 (in the North American Review) by Bryant's father, originally without the poet's knowledge. A revised version was published in 1821. In this elegy Bryant reflects that death comes to all men, common and great, and that all eventually shall rest together in the "mighty sepulchre" of the earth.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • P.S. The image above is "Thanatopsis" by Jamie Bishop.

    forgiveness and friendship

  • By his own report, Bryant was still a teenager living in his native Cummington, Mass., when he wrote the bulk of "Thanatopsis," the blank-verse meditation on death that remains his most influential poem.

    From Verse to Controversy -- And Fleeting Fame

  • But in "Thanatopsis" he turns this dissolution into a restful communion with nature, approaching death "Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch/About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

    From Verse to Controversy -- And Fleeting Fame

  • One of Jamie's favorite poems was "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant, a poem that is a meditation upon death.

    christopher james bishop (1971-2007)

  • The funeral was simple, as he wished, with a short oration, the reading of William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis," one of Jack's favorite poems, and a poem written for the occasion by George Sterling containing the lines:

    Wolf Dying: Page III

  • I'd have to think hard about what poems I might have tucked away in my own memory, but I'll never forget being flabbergasted at the dinner table one night when my dad busted out with "Thanatopsis" in its entirety, remembered precisely from his own school days decades earlier.

    item! item! items!

  • "Thanatopsis" was printed, for he must pay one of the tributes of eminence in having all the world know that he was born in 1794; but he was no more than eighteen when it was written, and surely never was there riper fruit plucked from so young a tree.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 76, February, 1864

  • Between this date and that of the publication of "Thanatopsis" there sweeps an arch of forty-eight years.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 76, February, 1864

  • Of the poems of this class, "Thanatopsis," of which we have already spoken, is one of the best known.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 76, February, 1864

  • The literary life of Bryant begins with the publication of "Thanatopsis" in the "North American Review," in 1816; for we need take no account of those earlier blossoms, plucked untimely from the tree, as they had been prematurely expanded by the heat of party politics.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 76, February, 1864


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