Funeral poetry

Hello, and welcome to this page. I have to admit that poetry is not a strong point for me. Probably because I find it difficult to understand most of it. Whenever we did poetry at school, I was always a bit lost. The girls in my class always seemed to understand it and wander off in some sort of dream world that I never saw. I know some people will think me a bit dense, and they may well be right, but I just don’t get most of it.

However, very occasionally I do hear or read something that I do understand, and I will add these to this page.

Copy anything you like, and forgive me for my shortcomings!

This is an ideal one for a gardener!

Blistered fingers
aching back
rain soaked anorak
Mud splat hat.

Thorn pricked, thistle pricked
poor cricked neck
Fork through gum boot, blinking heck!

Wasp stung, nettle stung
bee stung, numb thumb!
Bonfire smoke down throat and lung.

Overwhelming smell smell from hell
fumes of fetid dung.

Name one plus point gardeners, just one!

Well, er, in between its fun!

I was given this one just the other day (Aug 2013) by a dear friend of mine, thank you.

I said the the man who stood at the gate of the year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”
and he replied,
“Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low
God hideth his intention

I understand that will not suit anyone wishing a non-religious service.

I was sent this one recently and just had to add it, it seems so real!

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female, even your skin colour won’t matter.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

I read this one myself recently, for a family who wanted me to read the service. Its a beautiful poem. One that I can understand at last. I have also read it a few times at an ashes scattering (Aug 2013)

When I have moved beyond you in the adventure of life,
Gather in some pleasant place
And there remember me with spoken words,
old and new.  Let a tear fall if you will,
but let a smile come quickly too
For I have loved the laughter of life.
do not linger too long with your solemnities,
go eat, and drink, and talk

And when you can –
follow a woodland trail
Climb a high mountain
Sleep beneath the stars
Swim in a cold river
Chew the throughts of some book that challenges your soul
Use your hands some bright day
to make a thing of beauty.
or to lift someone’s heavy load.

Though you mention not my name,
Though no thought of me crosses your mind –
I shall be with you
And when you face some crisis with anguish
When you walk alone with courage
When you choose your paths of right
When you give yourself in love
I shall be very close to you.
I have followed the hills and valleys,
I have climbed the heights of life.

I found this one just the other day and thought it was something I could read.

An HONEST man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with his image blest;
the friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so informed;
If there is another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.

Robert Burns, celebrated Scottish poet and lyricist (1759 – 1796)

The following one came up on an Order of Service, and a family member read it. Obviously it was hard, I even found it hard to listen to them. But they got great comfort from it, and that is what its all about. Never mind what anyone else says. If you want to do it, then you must.

I’m free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.

Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.

Anon

Everyone has heard this one, but it makes sense to me.

Death is nothing at all

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my own familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral (1847 – 1918)

Another one everyone will have heard.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

Mary Frye, American poet (1904 – 2004)

A famous one

Crossing the bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate (1809 – 1892)

This one I found

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.

Unknown

Of course we couldn’t leave this most famous funeral poem out.

Funeral blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

WH Auden, poet (1907 – 1973)

Another famous one

He is gone

You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkin (1959 –     )

I hope this one is not for you.

I’ll lend you a child

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of Mine.” He said.
“For you to love the while he lives
And mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for Me?”
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief
You’ll have his lovely memories
As solace for your grief.”

“I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over
In my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love,
Not think the labour vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call
And take him back again.”

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.”

Edgar Guest, newspaperman and prolific Anglo American poet (1881 – 1959)

Another well known poem

Miss me, but let me go

When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not for long.
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that once we shared.
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we must all take,
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the master plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends we know,
Laugh at all the things we used to do.
Miss me, but let me go.

Anonymous

Good enough for the Queen Mother!

She is gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins (1959 –     )

Note: read at the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 2002.

This one makes my cry

Silent tear

Each night we shed a silent tear,
As we speak to you in prayer.
To let you know we love you,
And just how much we care.
Take our million teardrops,
Wrap them up in love,
Then ask the wind to carry them,
To you in heaven above.

Hmmmmm. Not sure about this one

When God saw you getting tired

When God saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be
He put his arms around you
And whispered come to me
He didn’t like what you went through
And he gave you rest
His garden must be beautiful
He only takes the best
And when we saw you sleeping
So peaceful and free from pain
We wouldn’t wish you back
To suffer that again
Today we say goodbye
And as you take your final rest
That garden must be beautiful
Because you are one of the best.

Anonymous

This next one was given to me by a Spiritualist Minister. Its a very beautiful poem. Let me know what you think.

My little Butterfly

Today a butterfly flew by me

I thought to myself where have you been little butterfly.

You come into the world as a cocoon all by yourself and blossom into this beautiful butterfly and fly off to see the world.

What you don’t realize little butterfly as you flutter through your days is how you touch those around you in your soft gentle way.

You don’t even realize the wonder and awe you create around you.

She fluttered her wings towards me as if she was waving goodbye as she headed towards the horizon

She looked happy and content as she went on her way as if to say to me “don’t worry I’ll be ok”

I was sad to see her go for she had touched my heart in such a way that I know my life would never be the same.

She left an imprint of all the beauty life has to offer.

I knew each time I looked at another butterfly or horizon I would remember our moment in time when it was only her and I.

I knew I would be a better person all because this little butterfly flew by me on a bright sunny day.

I just found this one 22/2/2013 Its a lovely poem.

Who brought flowers to this grave?
I, said the wren.
I brought them as seeds and then
Watched them grow.

No, said the wind. That’s not true.
I blew them across the moor and sea,
I blew them up to the grave’s door.
They were a gift from me.

They came of their own accord,
Said the celandine.
I know best. They’re brothers of mine.

I am Death’s friend,
Said the crow. I ought to know.
I dropped them into the shadow of the leaning stone.
I brought the flowers.

No, said Love,
It was I who brought them,

With the help of the wren’s wing,
With the help of the wind’s breath,
With the help of the celandine and the crow.

It was I who brought them
For the living and the dead to share,
I was the force that put those flowers there.

Brian Patten

There is no night without a dawning
No winter without a spring
And beyond the dark horizon
Our hearts will once more sing…
For those who leave us for a while
Have only gone away
Out of a restless, care worn world
Into a brighter day.

Helen Steiner Rice, American poet (1900 – 1981)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.

So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.

At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female, even your skin colour won’t matter.

 

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.