I just watched a great TV production called Wit. Here is a good NYT review of it for your perusal.
Wit is about Emma Thompson as a zealous professor of English, specialising in John Donne's poetry, and she is dying of terminal cancer. Wit is about her 8 months travail, and it is very moving, fascinating, intimate and full of life. All the characters in it - the ambitious young doctor, former student of hers, the compassionate nurse, the cold researcher - are wonderfully modern variations on the baroque memento theme. Watch it if you can.
And for those of us without a classical English education, here is one of the most famous poems by John Donne (1572-1631), often referred to in the film:
Death Be Not Proud
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.