Poems

A Litany of Remembrance by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

4th Stanza from For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

I Am Standing Upon The Seashore by Bishop Brent

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.

(S)he is Gone by David Harkins

You can shed tears that (s)he is gone
Or you can smile because (s)he has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that (s)he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that (s)he has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her/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 her/him and only that (s)he is gone
Or you can cherish her/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 (s)he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Mary Frye

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’s 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.

If I Should Die Before The Rest of You by Joyce Grenfell

If I should die 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.

God Looked Around His Garden by Katie Evans

God looked around his garden
And found an empty place,
He then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering
He knew you were in pain.
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your weary eyelids
And whispered, ‘Peace be Thine’.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.

Death is Nothing At All by Canon Henry Scott Holland

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 old 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 meant
It is the same as 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!

Not, How Did (S)he Die, but How Did (S)he Live?   Anon

Not, how did (s)he die, but how did (s)he live?
Not, what did (s)he gain, but what did (s)he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a (wo)man as a (wo)man, regardless of his/her birth.
Nor what was his/her church, nor what was his/her creed?
But had (s)he befriended those really in need?
Was (s)he ever ready, with words of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when (s)he passed away?

The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning...to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own, 
The cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

Instructions by Arnold Crompton 

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 if you will, but let a smile come quickly
For I have loved the laughter of life.
Do not linger too long with your solemnities.
Go eat and talk, and when you can;
Follow a woodland trail, climb a high mountain,
Walk along the wild seashore,
Chew the thoughts of some book
Which 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,
For these have been the realities of my life for me.
And when you face some crisis with anguish.
When you walk alone with courage,
When you choose your path of right,
I shall be very close to you.
I have followed the valleys,
I have climbed the heights of life.

I’ll Be There by Maude Hurford

I've come to the end of life's busy road
I've put down my burden, I've cast off my load
My spirit is free, my soul has wings
I'll pour from the throat of a bird that sings
I'll ride on the wind, I'll float on the clouds
I'll twinkle with the stars in night's velvet shroud
I'll shine with the sun as it circles the earth
I'll be there at the dawn when a new day gives birth
I'll be with the snow fluttering down
Silently, softly, nature's crown
I'll be in the rain as it falls on the earth
Cleansing, refreshing, priceless worth
I'll ride on the ether, silent and free
A world of my own, please don't cry for me

Miss Me But Let Me Go     Anon

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me, 
I want no tears 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 we once shared,
Miss me – But let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to your friends that we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good works,
Miss me – But let me go.

Footprints    Anon

One night I dreamed I was walking
Along the beach with the Lord,
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there was only one.
This bothered me because I noticed
During the low periods of my life when I was
Suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, “You promised me,
Lord, that if I followed you,
You would walk with me always.
But I noticed during the most trying periods
Of my life there has only been
One set of prints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
Have you not been there for me?
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
It was then that I carried you.”

Remember by Christine Rosetti

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 

Then that you should remember and be sad.

Crossing The Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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.

Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

I'll be there by Maude Hurford
I've come to the end of life's busy road
I've put down my burden, I've cast off my load
My spirit is free, my soul has wings
I'll pour from the throat of a bird that sings
I'll ride on the wind, I'll float on the clouds
I'll twinkle with the stars in night's velvet shroud
I'll shine with the sun as it circles the earth
I'll be there at the dawn when a new day gives birth
I'll be with the snow fluttering down
Silently, softly, nature's crown
I'll be in the rain as it falls on the earth
Cleansing, refreshing, priceless worth
I'll ride on the ether, silent and free
A world of my own, please don't cry for me

Come To Me    Anon

The Lord saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be,
So He put his arms around you
and whispered, "Come with me"

With tearful eyes, we watched you suffer
And saw you fade away,
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
A beautiful smile at rest,
God broke our hearts to prove
He only takes the best.

It's lonesome here without you
We miss you so each day,
Our lives aren't the same
Since you went away.

When days are sad and lonely,
And everything goes wrong,
We seem to hear you whisper,
"Cheer up and carry on."

Each time we see your picture,
You seem to smile and say,
"Don't cry, I'm in God's keeping,
We'll meet again someday."

I Don’t Believe In Death by Pauline Webb

I don’t believe in death
Who comes in silent stealth
He robs us only of a breath
Not of a lifetime’s wealth
I don’t believe in the tomb
Imprisons us in earth
It’s but another loving womb
Preparing our new birth
I do believe in life
Empowered from above
Till freed from stress and worldly strife
We soar through realms above
I do believe that then
In joy that never ends
We’ll meet all those we’ve loved, again
And celebrate our friends.

An Individual Human Existence by Bertrand Russell

An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. 

Indian Funeral Poem

When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much. 

Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it‘s pleasant to recall
But not for long. 

Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living.