Poems Befitting a Funeral

Readings at funerals in the past have traditionally been from a religious text. However, modern funerals can be designed to reflect your personality, and readings can range from literary passages to song lyrics and everything in between.  

Here are a few excerpts from poems that might appeal to you for a funeral service. 

  • When I am dead, my dearest – Christina Rosetti: When I am dead, my dearest, Sing no sad songs for me; Plant thou no roses at my head, Nor shady cypress tree: With showers and dewdrops wet; And if thou wilt, remember, And if thou wilt, forget. 
  • Our revels are now ended – William Shakespeare: Our revels are now ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air 
  • The choir invisible– George Eliot: O may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence; live In pulses stirred to generosity, In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn Of miserable aims that end with self, In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, And with their mild persistence urge men’s minds To vaster issues. 
  • But Not Forgotten – Dorothy Parker: I think, no matter where you stray, That I shall go with you a way. Though you may wander sweeter lands, You will not soon forget my hands, Nor yet the way I held my head, Nor all the tremulous things I said. 
  • Funeral Blues – W.H. Auden: 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. 
  • Dear Lovely Death – Langston Hughes: Dear lovely Death that taketh all things under wing Never to kill, Only to change Into some other thing This suffering flesh, To make it either more or less, But not again the same Dear lovely Death, Change is thy other name. 
  • The Emperor of Ice Cream– Wallace Stevens: Call the roller of big cigars, The muscular one, and bid him whip In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. Let the wenches dawdle in such dress As they are used to wear, and let the boys Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers. Let be be finale of seem. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. 
  • Turn Again to Life – Mary Lee Hall: 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. 
  • Wild Geese – Mary Oliver: You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. 
  • Epitaph on a Friend – Robert Burns: An honest man here lies at rest, 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 inform’d; If there’s another world, he lives in bliss; If there is none, he made the best of this. 

When you preplan, you get to pick how your service will unfold. You can choose the music and readings, decide how it will be decorated, choose mementos to display and determine who should be involved. Preplanning gives you leeway to do things your way and assures your wishes will be carried out because you’ve put them in writing. When you preplan, you also relieve your family of the pressure of making decisions, which allows them to focus on grieving your loss and supporting each other.  

At Skylawn Memorial Park, we’re experts in preplanning. We’ve been helping families plan funerals since 1959, building our reputation on quality, sincerity and trust. Call us at (650) 227-3142 for more information or visit our Plan Ahead page to request your free preplanning guide.

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