The male living being. As you know, theGrammatical

The topic of this research is the personification of death, found in English poetry. Inthis paper we will investigate how (and if) the death perception changed in English literatureand poetry in particular.The personification of death can be found in pieces of many English and Americanpoets, while Death is most often assimilated to a male living being. As you know, theGrammatical gender, which was present in the Old English, disappears during the EarlyModern English stage. However, many concepts, such as the heavenly bodies (sun, moon),seasons, natural objects (sea, river, wind, cloud), abstract concepts (love, beauty, sadness)reveal a poetic category of the grammatical gender, which is reproduced regularly in poetry.An indication of the gender can be the personal pronouns (he/she), as well as the wordswhose gender is embedded in their semantics (father, brother, son, king, sergeant vs.

mother,sister, daughter, queen, matron, maiden). The choice of male or female gender by poets isinfluenced by various factors, the most important of which is the grammatical category of theword in Old English, as well as pagan mythology and folklore and the psycho-culturalnotions of a particular subject or phenomenon. Thus, the origins of the male poetic gender ofDeath should be sought, on one hand, in the grammatical system of the Old English language(the noun “death” in Old English had a masculine gender), and on the other – in pre-Christianmythology, especially Greek, Germanic and Celtic folklore.The ancient Greek pantheon of gods included Hades (the god of the underworld),Persephone (the queen of the underworld), Hecate (the goddess of magic) and Keres, femaledeath-spirits. Thanatos was the personification of death in Greek mythology and is mentionedin the Iliad. (Homer & Fagles, 1991) According to some beliefs, he possesses an iron heart.

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The ancient Greeks believed in the inevitability of death, so Thanatos was not an2absolute evil god. He was considered calm and fair. Thanatos was most often portrayed as awinged man with a beard or boy with a quenched torch in his hand. Thanatos was the twinbrother of the sleep god Hypnos.Echoes of this can be seen in English poetry, where death is mentioned along with histwin brother Sleep: “Care-Charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night, / Brother to Death, in silentdarkness born, / Relieve my languish, and restore the light” (Daniel & Morris, 1855, p.

9);”How wonderful is Death! Death and his brother Sleep!” (Shelley, 1822, p. 3); “Sleep,Death’s twin-brother, times my breath; / Sleep, Death’s twin-brother, knows not Death”;”Sleep, kinsman thou to death and trance” (Lord Tennyson & Rowlinson, 2014, p. 87).The task of Thanatos was to carry the souls of people who died from diseases toCharon, the carrier of souls. Sisters of Thanatos, Keres, who had fangs, claws and bloodygarments, were spirits of violent death in battles, accidents, etc.

Keres were portrayed as evildeities that fed on the blood of bodies whose souls had already passed into another world.In the Bible, the figurative representation of death as a living being, as a rule, is notspecified on the basis of gender; moreover, Death in the Bible does not resemble eitherpeople, or angels, or demons. We can assume that the personification of Death in the form ofcreatures like people or gods is inherent to a greater extent in paganism than Christianity. Inthe Bible, the personification of death is only foreshadowed, which may indicate that thisimage is a legacy of the more ancient era of paganism, which could be reflected in the Biblerudimentary. The text of the Bible, for example, contains the image of the Death of theenemy: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). In addition,Death in the Bible can be combined with other nouns with the preposition “of”, pointing to aliving being: “firstborn of death” (“It is devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn ofdeath” Job 18:13); “The sting of death” (“The sting of death is sin” (1 Corinthians 15:56)).

3Pronouns can indirectly indicate on the personification of Death in the Bible,accompanied by the use of possessive and personal pronouns: “O death, where is thy sting? Ograve, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55); “I will ransom them from the power ofthe grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will bethy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hosea 13:14).In the previous examples, there is no grammatically or lexically expressed indicationof the gender of the living being, to whom Death is assimilated. However, in other passages,the word “death” in the Bible is combined with the personal pronoun of the third personsingular, used in the objective case (him), and with the possessive pronoun of the masculine”his”, which makes “death” a male.

Death, for example, is assimilated to a rider in thefollowing way: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name was Death, and Hellfollowed with him. And the power was given to them with the death of the earth, and withdeath, and with the beasts of the earth”. (Revelation 6: 8)Examples like the previous one in which the noun or pronoun is used are inferior innumber to contexts expressing the personification of Death with the help of verbs that do notpoint out the gender. In the vast majority of cases, Death is combined with the verbs ofmovement, speaking, mental activity, characteristic of animate beings (“flee”, “say”,”celebrate”). Other verbs used together with the word “death” can create an image of death-monster or death-beast (seize, feed).

The verb “reign”, combined with “death”, is used toassimilate Death to the monarch in the Bible. The same applies to the nominal predicate”have dominion”.It is believed that there are two sources of the origin of the Grim Reaper: the Angel ofDeath from the Old Testament and the Cronus of Ancient Greek mythology.

The BiblicalAngel of Death could be a positive conductor of souls to another world if it were not4identified with Satan and the fallen angels. In the Old Testament, he was sent by God toexterminate the Egyptians for the salvation of the Jews. Chronos personified time in ancientGreek mythology. Folk etymology brought this concept closer to the image of Cronus, one ofthe Titans, the father of the central deities of the Olympic pantheon, as a result of whichCronus was credited with control over time.During the Middle Ages, the Grim Reaper was portrayed in various guises, includinga bare skeleton and even a decomposing body. Grim Reaper was also portrayed with wings,which brought him closer to the Angel of Death.

Starting from the 15th century, the GrimReaper was often portrayed as a tall skeleton in a cloak with a hood that carried a scythe(sometimes depicted with a spear) to “mow” souls with it. Its attributes are sand ormechanical watches, as well as black raven. Sometimes the Grim Reaper was portrayed as askeletal rider on a black horse. (Harris, 2009)Sculptural images of the Grim Reaper or Death with a scythe can be found on manytombstones. There are engravings depicting the Grim Reaper in embraces with Liferepresented by a young girl, which symbolizes the transience of youth. The Grim Reaperserves as a reminder of the transience of life and the inevitability of death.

The picturesquedepiction of the Grim Reaper is associated with a genre called the “Dance of Death”.As discussed, Death in English poetry is most often assimilate to the being of the maleunder the influence of the grammatical gender in Old English, as well as Greek mythology. Inaddition, this personification was influenced by non-Christian belief in the Grim Reaper,which dates back to German folklore. A merciless reaper is not a God nor a ghost, but anintermediary between the world of the living and the underworld. Like the Greek Charon, heaccompanies the souls of dead people on their transition to another world.These ideas, which existed in folk legends, could not but be reflected in English5poetry in the form of a tendency to personify death in the form of a skeleton, a dead person oran abominable being from the other world. The following excerpt from Shakespeare’s playpresents Death as a deceiver who put on the ugliest of his masks: “I ran from Shrewsbury, mynoble lord; / where hateful death put on his ugliest mask / To fright our party.” (Shakespeare,1831, p.

460) In the passage from Shakespeare’s play “King John” it is said of Death as adecaying corpse: “Here’s a stay / That shakes the rotten carcass of old Death / Out of hisrags!” (Shakespeare, 1831, p. 384)Death attributes given to it by Shakespeare and later poets (“ugliest mask”, “the rottencarcass”, “icy hand”, “poor crooked scythe and spade”, “his sickle keen”), bring this poeticpersonification of Death closer together with the image of the Grim Reaper, created byancient mythology and folklore.Shakespeare has a very diverse palette of imaginative representations of Death in theform of a living being. On one hand, it can be an abstract higher power, or a spirit (“Death,that dark spirit, in ‘s nervy arm doth lie, / Which, being advanced, declines, and then mendie.” (Shakespeare, 2012, p. 34), or a devouring monster (“Do thou but close our hands withholy words, (It is enough I may but call her mine. (Shakespeare, 1831, p.

972) To createcomplex images in which Death appears to be a living being with similarities to mythicalmonsters and animals, Shakespeare uses a variety of lexical tools.The analogy ‘death = animal’ can be created with the help of masculine pronouns,nouns, adjectives and verbs. In the following example, that Death is represented as a monster:”O, now doth Death line his dead chaps withsteel;The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs;And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,6In undetermined differences of kings.” (Shakespeare, 2015, p.

660)On the other hand, Shakespeare’s Death for the first time in English poetry begins toacquire a human face. Each of these examples creates its own, unique image, representingDeath as a human being. This creature in the representation of some Shakespeareancharacters has eyes, contrary to the traditional depiction of Death as a skeleton with emptyeye sockets: “Your death has eyes in its head then; I have not seen him so pictured”(Shakespeare, 1831, p.867)Most often, death appears in the form of persons vested with power and demandingobedience.

In Richard II’s monologue from the drama of the same name, it is said that eventhe king does not have power over Death, which in the passage is represented by a monarch,whose authority is supreme to people, regardless of their status. The death-monarch has his”court” and is characterized by words endowed with negative connotations (“antic”, “scoff”,”grin”):… for within the hollow crownThat rounds the mortal temples of a kingKeeps Death his court and there the anticsits,Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,Allowing him a breath, a little scene,To monarchize.

..(Shakespeare, 1831, p.416)Emily Dickinson, American poet of the XIX century often resorts to the method ofpersonification for the creation of various animated images of Death in her poems.

In thepoem Because I could not stop for Death, Death appears as a coachman: “Because I could notstop for Death, / He kindly stopped for me” (Dickinson, 2016, p. 76); “We slowly drove, he7knew no haste.” (Ibid.) The carriage, driven by the coachman of death, carries the personainto eternity: “I first surmised the horses’ heads / Were towards eternity.

” (Ibid.)In the poem Death is a Dialogue Between Dickinson endows Death with the ability tospeak. Here we are talking about a conversation that is led by Death and the soul of man:Death is a Dialogue between The Spirit and the Dust.”Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir,I have another trust.” (Dickinson, 2016, p.

78)Expressions of the personification are verbs related in meaning to human speechactivity: “say”, “doubt” and “argue”. Dickinson’s poem Death is the Supple Suitor containsthe image of gallant Death, whose victory is achieved by a variety of techniques of anexperienced heartthrob: “stealthy Wooing”, “pallid innuendoes”, “dim approach”:”Death is the supple SuitorThat wins at last —It is a stealthy WooingConducted firstBy pallid innuendoesAnd dim approachBut brave at last with BuglesAnd a bisected Coach…”The coachman appears in Dickinson’s works not by any chance. It reminds us thatDeath has been associated with the transition to another world since ancient times (compare8with the god Thanatos, who carried the souls of the dead to the underworld). The coachman isthe more imaginative representation of the modern person, pointing to this transition.

Thus, the personification of Death in English poetry develops in different directions,starting from the different sources. The personification of Death as Thanatos, the brother ofsleep and the carrier of souls refers to Greek mythology. The image of the Grim Reaper,ascending to German folklore, gives impetus for the appearance of similar images in Englishpoetry, where Death appears as a corpse or skeleton-like creature with the correspondingattributes. Gradually, Death begins to acquire human traits (from the representatives of thesupreme authority: the king, commander, judge – to more modest representatives of thehuman race, such as healer, coachman, and footman). The attitude to Death expressedthrough personifications, also undergoes changes over the centuries: from mystical horror tothe higher, subjugating people by force – to a more philosophical perception of Death, withwhich, like any man, one can agree and argue.The conducted research testifies to the continuity of the English-speaking poetictradition and the fact that the origins of modern figurative representations of Death must besought in the depths of centuries.


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