peacefully gone to sleep- but forever

makeeverything

Senior Member
chinese-english
He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep- but forever. The sentence is strange to me, especially for the part "peacefully gone to sleep- but forever" . What function the part serves as? Personally, I think the part should be deleted.
 
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    It mean's he's dead. If you deleted the part you quote, the sentence would lose its entire point - it would just say that we were gone for two minutes, came back, and "he" was still there.

    You need to give the source of any quotation, makeeverything. It's a rule, and can be helpful to people answering.
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    "Peacefully gone to sleep - but forever" clearly means "dead". You can hardly miss it out, since it's the most significant part of the sentence.
     

    makeeverything

    Senior Member
    chinese-english
    I know here means that he is dead, and what I am really confused is the usage in sentence structure. What function (in the sentence structure) the sentence serves as? Can I use the sentence like " we found him alone, gone shopping" ?
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    There is a set phrase "to leave somebody alone". It has two interpretations, which overlap to some extent: (a) to leave somebody, so that he or she is by themselves with no other person near them or (b) to refrain from interfering or interacting with that person. In your quoted sentence, the meaning is (a).

    (1) We were with him. He was alive.
    (2) We went out of the room for two minutes; no other person was there with him.
    (3) We came back. He was sitting in his armchair, dead.

    "We found him alone, gone shopping" doesn't really work. To say that he had "gone shopping" suggests that he had physically moved away from the speaker's point of reference. You could say "We found him alone, shopping" if you discovered somebody out by themselves in the mall.
     

    makeeverything

    Senior Member
    chinese-english
    I quite agree with you. As you said above that "I found him alone, shopping. " , I am still puzzled about the usage of "peacefully gone to sleep" . Can we use the part "going to sleep" instead? Usually, we write a sentence like " Tom walks into the classroom, listening to music. " Please pay attention to the subject and the word "listening" . It's a kind of connection similar to this, isn't it? Here, "we" , "gone" , the connection seems strange.
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    You will often find the expression "he/she died in his/her sleep". This is taken to indicate a tranquil and untraumatic death, usually as a result of old age rather than illness. People are alive, and happy; they peacefully fall asleep; they don't wake up again so they are asleep forever.

    You should not try to analyse the function of "gone" as if it were a verb, needing a subject. "Go to sleep" is a phrasal verb. "Gone to sleep" is the past participle of this phrasal verb. Like many past participles, it can shift its grammatical role such that it effectively functions as an adjectival phrase. Here the adjectival "gone to sleep" is modifying "him".
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Although the sentence is fine and understandable, I would prefer it to be "... having peacefully gone to sleep." I don't like using the past participle of "gone to sleep" as a modifier; I prefer using the present participle with a perfective aspect.

    We can clearly say that "peacefully gone to sleep, but forever" is a participial phrase used as an adjective, modifying "him."
     

    makeeverything

    Senior Member
    chinese-english
    If "gone to sleep" is modifying "him", how can we judge the past participles modify the subject or the object ? Such as the sentence as follows: I stay with him in the room, absorbed in the computer games.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    how can we judge the past participles modify the subject or the object ?
    There is no explicit way to "know" what a modifier modifies. We make our best guess based on context and meaning.

    In your original sentence, it helps that we say things like "I found him hard at work" or "I found her passed out in the gutter" very frequently in English. These sentences mean "I discovered him/her, and he/she was..." Context and meaning make it clear what's being modified.

    (For instance, the phrase about having died can't modify "we" the subject - because if we were dead, we wouldn't be able to find him.)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep- but forever. The sentence is strange to me, especially for the part "peacefully gone to sleep- but forever" . What function the part serves as? Personally, I think the part should be deleted.
    It looks wierd unless you recognise the euphemism that is being used instead of saying "we found him dead in his armchair". It's function is simply to replace the word "dead" with the euphenism.

    GF..
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    There is nothing strange about the sentence. It is just a moving image of death. I don't think any changes should be attempted. The author just wanted the image to be created in this particular way. You could use other words to create a similar image, but there is nothing strange about this sentence.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    For me "peacefully gone to sleep - but forever" gives the impression that the people who found him was surprised to find him dead after leaving him alone for a short time, that he could have fallen asleep while they were gone, but not that it would be the eternal sleep.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I think Makeeverything's question is why the structure works. Why "we found him gone to sleep," not "we found that he had gone to sleep" or "we found him sleeping"?

    I agree that the sentence works, but I can't explain why.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Just for the record, the dead man that is probably being referred to is Karl Marx. Frederick Engels said this at the funeral of Karl Marx.

    From:- Der Sozialdemokrat March 22 1883 Karl Marx's Funeral
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/death/dersoz1.htm

    "At the graveside Gottlieb Lemke laid two wreaths with red ribbons on the coffin in the name of the editorial board and dispatching service of the
    Sozialdemokrat and in the name of the London Communist Workers' Educational Society.

    Frederick Engels then made the following speech in English:"

    "On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes,
    and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep-but forever."

    GF..

    Friedrich Engels expressed this extremely well.. The reference is well worth reading....
    I hope makeeverything will verify that the quote in post 1 was from Engels speech..
     
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