Ashes To Ashes

Meaning of “Ashes to Ashes”

The phrase “ashes to ashes” is part of ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It means everything that has life will one day come to an end. The phrase is generally used to quote the phase of human life during burial ceremonies. The phrase means that humans are made of the dust, as mentioned in the major religious works of literature, and will return to dust after death.

Origin of “Ashes to Ashes”

The phrase “ashes to ashes” is mainly derived from Genesis 3:19 from King James Bible when Adam and Eve are cast out of Garden of Eden. It goes, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” However, it shows the word “dust” instead of “ashes.” Later, the term “ashes to ashes” has come into the use in literature and lyrics.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Ashes To Ashes Dust To Dust by Kev Elmer

From ashes to ashes, from dust to dust.
You’ll rise again, in this I’ll trust.
You’re in our hearts, ‘till the end.
We will meet again, depart my friend.
You may be gone, but I know you’re near.
In my heart, I hold you dear.
My only hope, in peace you’ll rest.
I still miss you, I bet you guessed.
I’ll see you soon, it’s a must.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This beautifully rhymed poem has the other version of the phrase set as its title. The poet addresses these lines to a friend or a loved one. He wishes him/her goodbye with a promise of seeing again. He also hopes to see his friend and expresses that he misses them dearly. The phrase has been repeated in the first as well as the last line of the poem to stress that the poet will continue to miss his friend until his death.

Example #2

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust by Alfred Castner King

Is there a Death? The light of day
At eventide shall fade away;
From out the sod’s eternal gloom
The flowers, in their season, bloom;
Bud, bloom and fade, and soon the spot
Whereon they flourished knows them not;
Blighted by chill, autumnal frost;
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust!”

Is there a Death? Pale forms of men
To formless clay resolve again;
Sarcophagus of graven stone,
Nor solitary grave, unknown,
Mausoleum, or funeral urn,
No answer to our cries return;
Nor silent lips disclose their trust;
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust!”

Is there a Death? All forms of clay
Successively shall pass away;
But, as the joyous days of spring
Witness the glad awakening
Of nature’s forces, may not men,
In some due season, rise again?
Then why this calm, inherent trust,
“If ashes to ashes, dust to dust?”

The poem is about death and life after death. The poet states rhetorical questions to ask about the phenomenon of death, comparing it with the blossoming of flowers. He again comments on the death and graveyards in the second stanza and its relations with the clay, or ash, or dust. Therefore, the poem also expresses that death is not the end of life but just another phase.

Example #3

From Ashes to Ashes by John Biggs

The novel is about the journey of Peter Morrison, who is the son of a school teacher. Unfortunately, his favorite teacher is forced by his father to go to World War Two. While growing up, Peter becomes a rebel and goes against his conservative parents and family values. Throughout his life’s journey, he hears two different drum beats. He later engages in teaching as well as illicit love affairs. Later, he corrects his behavior to become the head of a prestigious school. As he grows old, Peter starts suffering from dementia. At the end of his life, he starts hearing a different drumbeat, symbolizing his recollection of childhood.

Example #4

Ashes to Ashes by Lavan S. Nathan

“Clarissa laughs gently and says, “True that. If you don’t mind me asking, does perpetually being surrounded by death get to you?”

“Not at all. On the contrary, it seems to make me appreciate life more. Each tie you bury or cremate dead, you are reminded of your own mortality. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust. We only have the present moment. Our next second is not guaranteed. So you end up treasuring each day that you have and wanting to make the best of it.”

This novel was written by Lavanesan Swaminathan and published in 2018. The story is about Clarissa Williams, who falls in love with a funeral director, Timothy. She asks Timothy if seeing dead people all the time bothers him. Timothy explains that cremating dead people reminds him that his life is not eternal. Hence he makes the best of it and treasures every minute. Hence, the title relates the same message.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “It’s okay to have fun once in a while. I’d like to remember we are ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Example #2: “The witch wanted to make a potion and live longer. However, she met a safe and was reminded that her life is ashes to ashes.”

Example #3: “A rich people cannot take his wealth to the grave. It’s ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Example #4: “Believing that life is ashes to ashes will give you a new perspective on living. Enjoy every minute and be positive. Death is just the transformation of life, not the end.”

Example #5: “More than knowledge, try to gain wisdom. We are all ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and after we die, people will remember us for what we did.”