I am proofreading a translation and I came across this sentence:

Man’s entire life, from the moment he first sees the light of day until he closes his eyes, does not suffice to fully understand the great mystery of the human soul.

In other languages, including my own, the expression "to close one's eyes" is often used as a respectful metaphor for someone's death. Is that the case in English? I looked in a few dictionaries online, and they rather give the meaning of the expression to close one's eyes to something (meaning to voluntarily ignore something).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Dec 20 '20 at 5:05

A negative is hard to prove definitively, but no,

to close one's eyes

all by itself does not metaphorically refer to one's death.

In the context of that phrase "Man’s entire life", sure, it makes sense as a metaphor, but 'to close one's eyes' is not a set phrase that refers to death in general.

And yes your dictionaries are right in that

to close one's eyes to something

means, in a slightly different metaphor, to intentionally ignore or forget about something.

  • The question is “Can ...?”. The brief answer is “Yes”, as in the example of the translated text. But we may take this as given, and the answer correctly and usefully deals with the implied question “Does it always ...?” – Anton Dec 29 '20 at 8:14

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