Shrouds have no pockets. / There are no pockets in a shroud.

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Shrouds have no pockets. / There are no pockets in a shroud.

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:11 am

<2001 “‘Enjoy your books. Enjoy your books now! For there are no pockets in a shroud.”—Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, page 115>
I think this is a real gem:

SHROUDS HAVE NO POCKETS / THERE ARE NO POCKETS IN A SHROUD: Worldly possessions are of no use to you after you are dead; enjoy it now – ‘you can’t take it with you.’

(Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, and The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs)

The 1854 quote is from the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs and the rest are from archived sources:
<1854 “With an image Dantesque in its vigour, that ‘a man shall carry nothing away with him when he dieth,’ take this Italian, our last robe, that is our winding sheet, is made without pockets.”—On Lessons in Proverbs (edition 2), by R. C. French, page v> [[Nonstandard wording, same idea]]

<1858 “A sermon in four words on the vanity of earthly possessions: ‘Shrouds have no pockets.’”— Daily Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 15 October. page 4> [[This is my earliest find, which has the standard wording of the proverb and which predates the 1909 quote provided by the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs by 51 years]]

<1859 “Poor Rachel! All the treasures of her heart were in this world, and could not be taken with her into the next, for ‘shrouds have no pockets.’”— Pleasant Pathways by Daniel Wise, page 129>

<1912 “Bank books and stock certificates are out of place in caskets. Shrouds have no pockets.”—Sullivan Daily Times (Indiana), 14 October>

<1975 “But death is a leveler. We all leave this life with exactly the same material wealth. Shrouds have no pockets! “—Tulia Herald (Texas), 3 April, page 1>

<2004 “ How do you breathe your last breath and spend your last dollar? I’m 62 with enough to last (I hope). I have no need to leave an estate. I don’t want to run out, and shrouds have no pockets.”—Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois), 10 April, page 20>

<2009 “My mother often says: ‘There are no pockets in a shroud.’ A woman from the Presbyterian north, she doesn't mean we have money to burn but a duty to pass it on. Scots have long regarded themselves as custodians not owners of land, assets and wealth.”—The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 22 March>

<2012 “One progressive English Catholic priest inspired me with the thought: ‘If we empty ourselves, share our life with others, share our good fortune, we create an inner vacuum for God to fill. The more we give, the more we receive. So we take into the afterlife only what we have given away. Shrouds have no pockets. We go naked out of life.’”—Heaven: A Traveller’s Guide to the Undiscovered Country by P. Stanford, page 303> [[This is a common religious theme.]]

Ken G – June 27, 2013

Re: Shrouds have no pockets. / There are no pockets in a shroud.

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:35 am

I remember my grandmother using the expression 60 years ago, and my moiety said it a couple of weeks ago.

You don't hear it every day but often enough to know that it isn't dead. (Sorry, bad pun)
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

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