Famous Last Words

I told you I was illAs this is a blog that is essentially dedicated to words in all their various and glorious forms, I thought it was about time I covered the issue of ‘famous last words’. Why? Because quite often these can be very amusing and profound, and often very representative of that person’s way of thinking and even their sense of humour, whether these last words are utterances to a loved one, or their epitaph. I intend on covering both of these in this post.

So what follows is a list of my personal favourite famous last words and famous epitaphs, though I must point out that often a person’s ‘last words’ are difficult to verify, and end up being changed in some form (more so than ever with the internet). So I will try to go with what seem to be the most commonly agreed upon last words in those cases. Many of these are (somewhat inevitably) either writers, poets, musicians or comedians. Enjoy!

Famous Last Words:

  • “I am in a duel to the death with this wallpaper. One of us has to go.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Drink to me.” – Pablo Picasso
  • “I have just had eighteen whiskeys in a row. I do believe that is a record.” Dylan Thomas
  • “Love one another.” – George Harrison
  • “This isn’t Hamlet, you know, it’s not meant to go into the bloody ear.” – Laurence Olivier (to his nurse, who spilt water on him while trying to moisten his lips)
  • “Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.” – Voltaire (when asked by a priest to renounce Satan)
  • “Money can’t buy life.” – Bob Marley
  • “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” – Louis XIV
  • “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.” – Pancho Villa
  • “Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” – Karl Marx

Famous Epitaphs

  • “I told you I was ill.” – Spike Milligan (often considered to be the wittiest epitaph of all time)
  • “That’s all, folks.” – Mel Blanc (the voice of Porky Pig)
  • “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
    To dig the dust enclosed here,
    Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
    And cursed be he that moves my bones.” – Shakespeare
  • “Here lies Ezekial Aikle. Age 102. The good die young.” – Ezekial Aikle
  • “The best is yet to come.” – Frank Sinatra
  • “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” – Robert Frost
  • “Against you I will fling myself unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!” – Virginia Woolf
  • “Alien tears will fill for him pity’s long-broken urn, for his mourners will be outcast men, and outcasts always mourn.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Here lies a Proof that Wit can never be Defence enough against Mortality.” – Mrs Aphra Behn
  • “When I am dead, I hope it may be said: ‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.'” – Hilaire Belloc

For more last words and epitaphs, look to some of the places I found many of these:

The book The Pocket Book of Death by Morgan Reilly and Joanna Tempest (which I looked at before here)

and the following websites:
http://www.mapping.com/words.shtml
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2012/dec/02/death-and-dying-popandrock
http://www.2spare.com/item_67246.aspx
http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/epitaphs/
http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/epitaphs.html

Do you know any other funny or clever last words or epitaphs? Which are your favourites?

4 thoughts on “Famous Last Words

  1. I think that it should be incumbent on all “famous” people to say something profound otherwise they shouldn’t be allowed to die. I just hope I can manage something better than aaagh. Of course one of the most fretted over is Nelson and if all the accounts are to be given credence the man was a veritable chatterbox while in extremis.

    • Hahaha, I suspect if you told a dying famous person they weren’t allowed to die until they had said something either witty or profound, the reaction you would provoke in them might possibly be something funny or insightful after all.
      I’ve often thought about what I can manage to say when I die as well, hopefully it’s not “uh oh” or “not again”. But I do also wonder what epitaph I’ll get, because that one I can pre-plan a bit more. I know all this sounds very strange, but I do think about these things. 😛

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