More funeral poems
Simon Barclay-Brown contributes some peoms that will give a funeral special meaning to those who understand.
What is Dying
Popular as it makes the vanishing of a ship over the horizon a positive metaphor for the departure of a loved one.
A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon
and someone at my side says, ’She is gone!’
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large now as when I last saw her.
Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
’She is gone’, there are others who are watching her coming over their horizon,
and other voices take up a glad shout,
’There she comes!’
That is what dying is.
An horizon and just the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further
Attributed to Bishop Brent
Neil Davis, a cameraman in the Korean War, wrote this poem by T. O. Mordaunt in the front cover of his notebooks.
Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
Throughout the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.
This poem by Christina Rossetti is rightly very popular as it expresses a wish to be remembered with a smile rather than sadness.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Also by Christina Rossetti is this lovely poem.
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
I came across this in The Dust Diaries by Owen Sheers, attributed to someone simply called Lockie. It suits someone who has grabbed life by the horns.
How narrow is my faith if I do not dream
Of easy virtue and the world’s esteem,
Of flights of joy without the vales of sorrow
Thinking no trial will test my faith tomorrow.
In such a soft, rewarded life as that
Where would we build the men we marvel at?
Wherein would virtue lie? What be our goal?
How would love prove itself or lift the soul?
This by Rupert Brooke suits for the repeated sense of happiness and laughter. Brooke wrote a number of poems, mostly military, about death but this is adaptable.
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks.
All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.
Epithet rather than a poem, and so true:
If death has any value it is to teach us the art of living...
A gravestone plea
This is supposedly taken from a gravestone but is attributed to George Macdonald.
Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde;
Hae mercy o’ my soul, Lord God;
As I wad do, were I Lord God,
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.
If Death is Kind
Perhaps if death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.
We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.
Into my Heart
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
From A Shropshire Lad
A. E. Housman