I have always enjoyed reading the exit lines, great and otherwise, of the great and not-so-great, of those who seem ready for a new adventure and for those who resist or persist in their old ways to the dying breath, of those who welcome death, and those who fear or deny it. Last words are often not the most felicitous, but as Walt Whitman observed, “they are valuable beyond measure to confirm and endorse the varied train, facts, theories and faith of the whole preceding life.”
Here’s a selection of my favorites:
Where is my clock? – Salvador Dali
I’m bored with it all. – Winston Churchill (before slipping into a coma; he died nine days later)
I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that’s the record. – Dylan Thomas
I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. – Errol Flynn
Dammit. Don’t you dare ask God to help me. – Joan Crawford
Friends applaud, the comedy is finished. – Beethoven
I want you to tell me the truth. Did Ernest [Hemingway] really like me? – Dorothy Parker
It has all been very interesting. – Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
More light. – Goethe
This is funny. – Doc Holliday, gunfighter and gambler.
A dying man can do nothing easy. – Benjamin Franklin
I scorn to answer you such a question. – Queen Elizabeth I (on being asked by Sir Robert Cecil on her deathbed if she had seen spirits)
And in my dream an angel with white wings came to me, smiling. – Gauguin (last notes)
Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six. – Tolstoy (on being urged on his deathbed to return to the Russian Orthodox church)
I can’t sleep. – James M. Barrie.
I see black light. – Victor Hugo.
Get my swan costume ready. – Anna Pavlova
Farewell, my friends. I go to glory! – Isadora Duncan,
This is no time to make new enemies. – Voltaire
Dying is easy, comedy is hard. – George Bernard Shaw
My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go. – Oscar Wilde
I must go in. The fog is rising. – Emily Dickinson.
Try to give back the divine in you to the divine in all. – Plotinus
Turn up the lights. I don’t want to go home in the dark. – O.Henry
Oh shit. – last words on a majority of flight recorders recovered after plane crashes.
Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow. – Steve Jobs
Do you have a personal favorite that isn’t here? Please feel free to share in the Comments. If you could rehearse your own last words, what would they be?