Funeral Poetry - Classical
Perhaps . . . To R. A. L.
by Vera Brittain. 19l6. From Verses of a V.A.D.
Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.
Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away,
Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there,
But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.
by William Shakespeare
(This reading is often suitable for the funeral of a person who has committed suicide.)
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all .
(Around the age of 90, A.D. Hope composed his own funeral instructions in verse. This one is where wants to be buried, not cremated.)
When I am dead, believe me
This is my last desire,
That gentle earth receive me
And not the lordly fire.
My mother and my father
Went through the gate of flame
But I myself would rather
Go back the way I came
Let the deep mould which bore me
Enfold me in the grave
And, as from men before me,
Take back the gifts it gave.
From The First Elegy, The Duino Elegies.
by Rainer Maria Rilke
"True, it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer,
to use no longer customs scarcely acquired,
not to interpret roses, and other things
that promise so much, in terms of a human future;
to be no longer all that one used to be
in endlessly anxious hands, and to lay aside
even one’s proper name like a broken toy.
Strange, not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange,
to see all that was once relation so loosely fluttering
hither and thither in space. And it’s hard, being dead,
and full of retrieving before one begins to perceive
a little eternity. - All of the living, though,
make the mistake of drawing too sharp distinctions.
Angels (it’s said) would be often unable to tell
whether they moved among living or dead. The eternal
torrent whirls all the ages through either realm
for ever, and sounds above their voices in both."
Bread and Music
by Conrad Aitken
Music I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.
Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you, belovèd,
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.
For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
And in my heart they will remember always,
They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.
THE OLIVE TREE
by Mark O'Connor
(A poem that uses the olive tree as a traditional symbol of civilization and endurance against destructive forces)
Nobody knows how long it takes to kill an olive.
Drought, axe, fire, are admitted failures. Hack one down,
grub out a ton of mainroot for fuel, and next spring
every side-root sends up shoots. A great frost
can leave the trees leafless for years; they revive.
Invading armies will fell them. They return
through the burnt-out ribs of siege machines.
Only the patient goat, nibbling his way down the ages,
has malice to master the olive. Sometimes, they say,
a man finds a dead orchard, fired and goat-
cropped centuries back. He settles and fences;
the stumps revive. His grandchildren's family prosper
by the arduous oil-pressing trade. Then wars
and disease wash over. Goats return. The olives
go under, waiting another age.
Their shade still lies where Socrates disputed.
Gethsemane's withered groves are bearing yet.
Fear no more the Heat of the Sun (from Cymbeline, IV I)
by William Shakespeare
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta’en they wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
Like chimney sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great,
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak;
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Not the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unbid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have:
And renowned be thy grave!
byJames McAuley (translating Rilke)
Heart, it is time. The fruitful summer yields.
The shadows fall across the figured dial,
The winds are loosed upon the harvest fields.
See that these last fruit swell upon the vine,
Grant them as yet a southern day or two
Then press them to fulfillment and pursue
The last of sweetness in the heady wine.
You shall be homeless, shall not build this year.
You shall be solitary and long alone.
Shall wake, and read, and write long letters home,
And on deserted pavements, here and there
Shall wander restless, as the leaves are blown.
The Debt Unpayable (for a serviceman/woman)
What have I given,
Bold sailor on the sea?
In earth or heaven,
That you should die for me?
What can I give,
O soldier, leal and brave,
Long as I live,
To pay the life you gave?
What tithe or part
Can I return to thee,
O stricken heart,
That thou shouldst break for me?
The wind of Death
For you has slain life's flowers,
(God grant) all weeds in ours.
Francis William Bourdillon
And by same author (demanding some knowledge of the classical/operatic myth of Eurydice):
HE came to call me back from death
To the bright world above.
I hear him yet with trembling breath
Low calling, “O sweet love!
Come back! The earth is just as fair;
The flowers, the open skies are there;
Come back to life and love!”
Oh! all my heart went out to him,
And the sweet air above.
With happy tears my eyes were dim;
I called him, “O sweet love!
I come, for thou art all to me.
Go forth, and I will follow thee,
Right back to life and love!”
I followed through the cavern black;
I saw the blue above.
Some terror turned me to look back:
I heard him wail, “O love!
What hast thou done! What hast thou done!”
And then I saw no more the sun,
And lost were life and love.
The next piece is perhaps the one major excerpt from Eliot that ought to work for a general audience. Its liturgical tones are quite appropriate, and the mysticism not too obscure.
T. S. Eliot's Little Gidding (from Four Quartets)
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
The Astronaut About to Escape Earth (from Embryo Voyage)
She walked in silence
enamoured of touch, on
the thin film of life that encrusts
the hot planet of iron.
On garrulous buoys aloft
the nervous system of the horde
flickered from pole to cloudy pole.
To leave this surface we love, join
the gnat-choirs, bound
for Lagrangian space . . .
Seeing Ophelia's face in the freezing stream
swept with euglena, ranunculus, starwort,
she walks, face iced free of time and terror,
her shod foot crunching
the scaly shale bric-a-brac matrix
of petrified dragons and many-toothed birds
(what my sister is now, that shall I be)
on this slag top of the fiery furnace.
Where again to meet
what we understand so little?
Aloft and smiling, she touched a key
to hear the voice of that deep planet
call the children of the sun.
I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken
And that though I be all forgetting
Yet shall I not be all forgotten
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
Of those I loved
What can be happier than a life made beautiful
with friendship and love and completed in honour
Old Man and Pond
(poem for a biologist -- perhaps ...)
I have waded in deep as an old man can
who is a worshipper of ponds and stars
because both are the holes into which
the dead things fall to be born again.
A numb cold seeps in my toes, spills
past the warped leather tongue, brings
a dozen ostracods and a bosminae school
to feed on the rich wool soup of my socks.
I know about ponds, how they choke on the corpse
of success, how this one soon will be a
swamp so thick that the long-toed dotterel
stamps on top - and I see the pool
on this leaden day as what it is, a cold
furnace, where lives are dissolved and made.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
5 excerpts from Lycidas
Though often called the greatest funeral elegy in the language, Lycidas's length and dated literary language makes it suitable only in excerpts, and for rather special deceaseds and very well-educated mourners. Still, this would give a unique quality to any funeral at which it could be used. I suggest that something might possibly be done with the following excerpts. The name Lycidas should be replaced by that of the deceased.
Yet once more, O ye laurels and once more
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And with forced fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
2. Use these lines if for a poet or a singer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin then, sisters of the sacred well
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring,
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse;
3. (Reflection on Fame)
Alas! What boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely slighted shepherd's trade.
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorréd shears,
And slits the thin spun life. -But not the praise,
Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears;
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumor lies,
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heaven expect thy meed.
4. Use these lines if for a priest or ex-priest. (shepherd = pastor)
Last came and last did go
The pilot of the Galilean lake,
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).
He shook his mitered locks, and stern bespake:
-How well could I have spared for thee, young swain,
Enow of such as for their bellies' sake,
Creep and intrude, and climb into the fold!
Of other care they little reckoning make,
Than how to scramble at the shearer's feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest.
Blind mouths! That scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learned aught else the least
That to the faithful herdman's art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw.
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread,
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said.
But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.
5. (The Pious Peroration)
Look homeward angel now, and melt with ruth:
And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor,
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore,
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of him that walk'd the waves,
(perhaps for a child’s funeral.)
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
(Perhaps for a child’s or a lover’s funeral?)
Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.
Come, as thou cam'st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me!
Or, as thou never cam'st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth;
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say: My love! why sufferest thou?
Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.
SISTER OF THE MOON
(Poem, or Song for lyric soprano; Aboriginal theme)
I am the cousin of the crow
and sister of the moon
The ghostmen stalked upon my land
two hundred years ago.
At last my son stood in their path
they spoke, and with a thunder-clap
they killed him with a hidden stone.
They killed him with a hidden stone.
But then they camped on sacred earth
and dug the graves our spirits owned:
we knew the ghostmen were our own
returning to home ground.
We saw beneath their death-white skins
the cheek-bones of my cousin's son,
and my own father from the grave
walking in the hot sun.
I ran towards him in the day
calling above the land we own.
He spoke, and entered in my heart
to kill me with a hidden stone.
To kill me with a hidden stone.
I am the spirit of this land;
I walk in leprous white.
I am the cousin of the crow
And sister of the night.
How Did You Die?
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, trouble's a ton, or trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there - that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown,
why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight and why?
And though you be done to death, what then?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl,
or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only, how did you die?
Edmund Vance Cooke
How He Died
So he died for his faith. That is fine.
More than most of us do.
But stay. Can you add to that line
That he lived for it, too?
It is easy to die. Men have died
For a wish or a whim -
From bravado or passion or pride.
Was it harder for him?
But to live; every day to live out
All the truth that he dreamt,
While his friends met his conduct with doubt,
And the world with contempt.
Was it thus he plodded ahead,
Never turning aside?
Then we’ll talk of the life he led.
Never mind how he died.
Ernest Howard Crosby
(Use this great but very personal poem only if it is very suitable!)
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
Sonnet 73 (Might be used on the death of one of a deeply attached couple)
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.
O Captain! My Captain!
(For the death of a father?)
O Captain! my Captain! our fearlful trip is done;
The shop has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, eager faces turning;
Hear Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread.
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Life’s Growth from Embryo Voyage
Past follicle, sorter of joys,
down fallopian, pathway of fate
into the humming, the bees-nest of sperm's
brief promiscuous surf, then the one clear bell
for that long monogamy, self.
In the long-prepared ark, self throbbed against self,
awaiting the light, and what feeds or consumes
self's sweet million-celled veal.
The yolk in the amnion
frail to a jolt,
packed to devour a world.
I Never Lost as Much
I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!
Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!
I Many Times Thought
I many times thought peace had come
When peace was far away,
As wrecked men deem they sight the land
When far at sea they stay.
And struggle slacker, but to prove,
As hopelessly as I,
That many the fictitious shores
Before the harbor lie.
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow,
than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls
Henry W. Longfellow
The Abiding Remorse
We were two cranes, each broken-winged,
that hopped and panicked in the dust
till welded, seamless, rib to rib,
we sprang with equal, matchless strokes
to glide above the circling clouds
beyond the glance of counsellors,
perfect, alone, in company.-
So wrote the Emperor
of plump Kwei Fei, whose blood
his generals poured in dust, whose love
cost him and China everything.
Despised and hobbling on the earth,
his patient brush stroked out these lines,
(Quasi-translation by Mark O'Connor 2004)
The story of the 8th century Tang emperor Xuan Zhong and his perfumed concubine Yang Kwei Fei (or Gui Fei) is famous in China. The poem is loosely based on a couplet from the Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi's The Abiding Remorse.)
On Accepting Death
In this biological world we can see clearly that death is a stage in the life cycle. In our human case, we cling to the precious consciousness that seems to set us apart from the rest of the natural world, and we see death with different eyes - as an ending, often cruel, and sometimes unendurable.
We do ourselves no service to make an enemy of death; it is a presence within our life, and by denying it, we deny a part of ourselves. Our deepest knowledge includes a knowledge of death. To experience loss and to grieve it are the great common experiences, and to deny them is to make ourselves less human.
We live in a beautifully balanced system in which death is a part of everything that lives. The pain of our personal loss is ours; within the greater whole, nothing is lost. Perhaps it is too much to say that we will ever understand death; the fruit of time and pain and healing is that we will come to accept it.
Karen Kasey Martha Vanceburg
Extinction of the Huia
Melodious as its Maori name, the gentle Huia bird seems a fowl lost from an ancient bestiary.
Always in pairs, their life one long low liquid interchange,
they rarely flew, but hopped and probed in deepest thickets
preening and balancing, antiphonal.
They fed upon the luscious huhu grub
under mossed and lichened podocarps
--fed and hopped so lovingly together
that if a Maori noosed one bird, its mate would come to hand.
Working together, joint custodians, His straight crow-bar beak
and Her thin curving probe, utterly unlike, conjoined
to winkle out tree-eating grubs.
Never widespread or numerous, their superb sober Finery made funeral-plumes for centuries
until Cook visited. The stuffed ones soon
were -musts- for lounge-rooms, though few knew how well their natures fitted these strange bills.
Charmed by his captive pair, Buller records how native know-how and the foreign gun took in 600 skins from a week's work
--most of the world's remaining stock:
-Now safely on the increase-.
A common bird today in Auckland's antique shops, its loving notes that ranged from purest whistles to what seemed a puppy's whining call, are gone, lost,
all before the age of tapes and films.
And our museum has one --that is, of course, a pair.
For E.J. Banfield
('Beachcomber' of Dunk Island)
(for a conservationist’s funeral)
What are my strenuous weeks of visit
to this man's thirty years --
his time to muse with shoals and tides
pipe-lost on every log and headland,
to praise the pawpaw and the pomelo
swooning in drunk, bat-fossicked flowers,
to plant the mangosteen and litchi. I see
his hand, pressed to a rough-hewn table,
turn the light nectar of a season
to the honey of considered prose.
A journalist, half blind and warned of death,
who hired the world's loveliest island
in days when the great Reef lay nowhere
on the possessable globe --he became
the serene prose-singer of Coonanglebah's sands
and lord of the tide-linked islands; one
of a pair who bred no clan, and sought
no wealth, learning through love
that Aboriginal trick, to leave the land
beyond their life untouched.
FUNERAL LOVE POETRY
(Suggested by Doris Nolan)
RUTH 1: 16-17
Ask me not to leave you,
or to return from following you.
For where you go, I will go.
Where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people
and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die
and there will I be buried.
May the Lord do so to me,
and even more,
If anything but death,
part you from me
(Suggested by Melissa Halliday)
Dirge without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away
of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been,
time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go,
the wise and the lovely.
With lilies and with laurel they go;
but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look,
the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom.
But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes
than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
But I do not approve.
And I am not resigned.
Edna St Vincent Millay
Joyce Grenfell (1910-1979)
Life Goes On
If I should go before the rest of you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell,
But life goes on,
So Sing as well.
Amelia Josephine Burr (1878 - ?)
from ‘A Song of Living’
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leaped with the rain,
I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheek like a drowsy child
to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.
You can Shed Tears That 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’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and love yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s 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’d want: smile, open your eyes
Love and go on.
Traditional Gaelic Blessing: (Anon)
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His Hand.