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All flesh is grass

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All flesh is grass

All flesh is grass is a much-quoted phrase from the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:6 (Hebrew: כָּל־הַבָּשָׂ֣ר חָצִ֔יר‎‎ kol basar chatsir). In the New Testament the phrase reoccurs in the First Epistle of Peter (see 1Peter 1:24; Greek: πᾶσα σὰρξ ὡς χόρτος, pasa sarx hōs chortos). It was a commonly used epitaph, frequently found for example on old ledger stones and monuments in churches in 17th century England. The phrase is interpreted to mean that human life is transitory. It has been used in various works, including:


  • "All Flesh is Grass", a poem by English poet Christina Rossetti
  • "War Photographer" by the Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, where it describes the sights seen in war photographs
  • "The Omnivore's Dilemma", a nonfiction book by Michael Pollan
  • it is repeated in a line of the poem "Difficulties of a Statesman" by T. S. Eliot
  • All Flesh is Grass, a novel by American science fiction writer Clifford D. Simak
  • a book on agriculture by American author Gene Logsdon
  • an album by Norwegian dark metal band Madder Mortem
  • it was inscribed on the pope's chest in the painting King Edward VI and the Pope
  • it was inscribed on the pope's chest in the painting Deathbed of Henry VIII
  • cited by Thomas Dekker in The Shoemakers' Holiday ( 1599 )
  • it was used as text for "Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras", the second movement of the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms
  • it was used in the first stanza of Kipling's poem entitled "Arithmetic on the Frontier"
  • it was used in the third stanza of the ninth poem in "Ten Songs" by W. H. Auden to reinforce the idea of "Tempus Fugit" used earlier in the stanza.
  • it was used in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, "All flesh is weak. All flesh is grass, I corrected her in my head," (45). The name of the butcher's shop "All Flesh" is also a reference to this.
  • in the Michael Cimino film, Heaven's Gate (1980), John Hurt's character Billy Irvine mutters it to himself as, appalled, he drunkenly watches a battle unfold around him and is then killed.
  • the phrase appeared in an episode of Cracker, The Big Crunch(1994)
  • it gives the tone to the second part of the 1889 Swedish summer hymn En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt by Carl David af Wirsén
  • All flesh is grass chris massa


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