Funeral Poems

Here you'll find poems that will add a personal feel to any funeral or memorial service. The selection includes everything from an old Irish toast, to the poem read by her eldest sister at Princess Diana's funeral.

Eulogy eBookBy the way, if you're also writing a eulogy, you'll want to find out more about writing A Eulogy to Remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you need help planning the service, and taking care of the hundreds of practical, legal and financial details, have a look at Saying Goodbye with Love.

Funeral Planning eBook


Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. 

She is an object of beauty and strength. 
I stand and watch her until at length 
she hangs like a speck of white cloud 
just where the sea and sky come 
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all. 
She is just as large in mast and hull 
and spar as she was when she left my side 
and she is just as able to bear her 
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
shout;
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

by Henry Van Dyke, a 19th Century clergyman, educator, poet, and religious writer


Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you gave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)


Remember

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 planned:
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 I once had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be said.

by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)


Epitaph on a Child

Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
A child, the darling of his parents' eyes:
A gentler Lamb ne'er sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again:
Few were the days allotted to his breath;
Now let him sleep in peace his night of death.

by Thomas Gray (1716-1771


To Those I Love

If I should ever leave you,
Whom I love
To go along the silent way. . .
Grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears.
But laugh and talk of me
As if I were beside you there.

(I'd come. . .I'd come,
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears and
And grief be barriers?)

And when you hear a song
Or see a bird I loved,
Please do not let the thought of me
Be sad. . .for I am loving you
Just as I always have. . .

You were so good to me!
There are so many things
I wanted still to do. . .
So many things I wanted to say
to you. . . Remember that
I did not fear. . . It was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.

We cannot see beyond. . .
But this I know:
I loved you so. . .
'twas heaven here with you

by Isla Paschal Richardson. Read by Gregory Peck at Frank Sinatra's funeral, 1998


A Hopi Prayer

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.

by Mary E. Frye

Note: When I first included this poem here, it was listed as "Author Unknown" since I had seen the same poem attributed to three different authors. Over the next year, a number of people sent me their speculations about who the author was, but nothing seemed to have a strong "provenance."

A big thank you to Shelley Smart, who sent me this link from the CBC Radio program "Ideas"


To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor aught by love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way reply;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672


Songs of the Death of Children (Kindertotenlieder)

You must not shut the night inside you,
But endlessly in light the dark immerse.
A tiny lamp has gone out in my tent--
I bless the flame that warms the universe.

by Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866


Turn Again to Life 

If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone,
who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand
to do something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I perchance may therein comfort you.

by Mary Lee Hall, read at the funeral of Princess Diana by her eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale


Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow Love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love; 
for it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.


Old Irish Toast

May you have food and raiment,
A soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead.


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