Tanka: On Dying and Death


Passages - On Dying and Death - Tanka

In man’s finite days
The last of them unplanned
Comes without warning
A beloved heart sadly stilled
Rich memories as comfort

Daily adventures
Through the eyes of the living
That’s what’s expected
Dying narrows the focus
To just few remaining breaths

Creeping in shadows
Death, as it is wont to do
Exacts its full price
From man’s fragile existence
Without remorse or regret

Humans grasp and claw
As temporary beings
Death gives no quarter
Inexorably and cold
Time passes us silently

Harsh reality
Unbending and unyielding
Our time vanishes
The perspective in reverse
Sees only that which has been

Dwindling moments
Not necessarily grim
A smile and farewell
A life satisfied, complete
Without lament or envy

Years turn as pages
Life as abundant prologue
Fortified and full
The journey draws to a close
And now, simple dénouement

Live exuberant
Extracting all life can give
Embracing and savoring
Know our time is limited
Death, shaking its hoary fist

Empty, hollow life
Death in successive moments
Wasted time and breath
Personal failure to live
Unfulfilled and desolate

Time evaporates
As life fades into whisper
Scarcely audible
To ears but strident to souls
Of those with unfinished work

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