Death (the physical
or incopereal, at least visible embodiement of our mortality) came in many forms across the globe
. Man or woman
, gaunt, pale
farmers whose approach was heralded by the creaking of his cart (used to convey the dead) or a shadowy
throngs of mortals. The former incarnation (sometimes known as the Ankou
) likely gave the origins of the wicked-edged scythe, now seen in virtually every description of the (now named) Reaper of Souls
. Perhaps a link to the Ankou's farmer-like appearance, the scythe
indeed became a fitting tool in later years, as the plague
cut a swathe across Europe
. Swords were also favoured by the Ankou
, as well as by other heralds of oblivion, oft seen at the head of some terrible hunt.
Such visions of ones mortality hardly instill a feeling of optimism, as shown in these examples of poetry (possibly written around the time of the 1665 plague epidemic of England, but just as likely to have been written at a later date).
The lantern bearer lights the way
For those who no more seize the day;
Blind eyes peer out of every head
That crowds the carriage of the dead.
A miser thought to keep his gold
As shield against the coming cold.
But what cared Death for mortal gains?
He smiled upon the misers pains.
Nor crown nor coin can halt times flight
Or stay the armies of the night.
King and villein, lad and lass,
All answer to the hour glass.
Her hour had come; his mother smiled
And sighed beside her infant child.
But he too, answered to the curse
And found himself an older nurse.
A gentle hand will help the dead
To find the way to their last bed;
Who engineers the mortal's end
Will tell you he is man's best friend.