Funeral Service Poems and Readings

Poems and non-bible readings


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 once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Rossetti

Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure - then, from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more. Death, thou shalt die.
John Donne

Sing no sad songs

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 or set,
Haply I may remember;
And haply may forget.
Christina Rossetti Song

The Ship

I am standing upon that foreshore. 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 and I stand and
watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each
other. Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!"
"Gone where?" "Gone from my sight, that's all". She is just
as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she
left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to
the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not
in her. And just at that moment when someone at my side
says, "There! She's 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.
Victor Hugo from Toilers of the Sea
(a passage often attributed to Bishop Brent)


One night I had a dream.
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord,
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times
in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it:
"Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You,
You would walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in
my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand
why in times when I needed You most, You would leave me."
The Lord replied:
"My precious, precious child, I love you and would never,
never leave you during your times of trial and suffering.
When you see only one set of footprints -
It was then that I carried you."

Not how did he die

Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with word 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 he passed away

Miss Me But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
and the sun has set on me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room,
why cry for a soul set free.
Miss me a little--but not too 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 that 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 the friends we know.
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,
miss me--but let me go.
                                             Edgar A Guest

His Being was in her Alone 

His being was in her alone:
And he not being, she was none.
They joyed one joy, one grief they grieved;
One love they loved, one life they lived.
The hand was one, one was the sword,
That did his death, her death afford.
As to the rest, so now the stone
That tombs the two is justly one.
                                             Sir Philip Sidney

You can shed tears

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 live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is 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.
                                             David Harkins

Stop all the clocks

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.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
W. H. Auden Funeral Blues


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