Poems for a Funeral or Memorial

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In this article we have gathered together some poems that could be used for a tribute or in a eulogy. These poems could be used for remembering a special person at gatherings, or simply just to remember your loved one privately. We also have some more general poems and also more specific poems for mothers, fathers, sisters, in-laws and grandparents.

Here is a lovely passage called ‘Loved Ones Passed Away’ written by Clara A. Merrill, and is generally suitable for poem readings at a funeral.

‘Loved Ones Passed Away’

Within our home so cheerful
Where all is warm and bright;
Sometimes our hearts grow tearful,
And to darkness turns the light.
We see not the joys that surround us
We heed not our friends bright and gay;
For memories come crowding around us
Of loved ones passed away.

Without, the old home is the same,
Yet within, there is a change;
And feelings which we cannot name
Steal o’er us, sad and strange.
We see the dear forms of long ago,
Illume the twilight gray,
Yet the darksome silence whispers low
Of loved ones passed away.

We see them as we did of yore
In the dear old days long past;
Ere they were called to the other shore,
But those fancies cannot last.
And though the heart in fondness seeks
To bid them longer stay
Yonder grim churchyard mutely speaks
Of loved ones passed away.

Clara A. Merrill

The following poem was written by Victor Hugo and is called ‘Tomorrow at Dawn’. It is a translation of the original French work called ‘Demain, dès l’aube’. There are many different translations available on the web. It is a poem about death not sorrow.

Tomorrow at Dawn

Tomorrow, at dawn, in the hour when the countryside becomes white,
I will leave. You see, I know you wait for me.
I will go through the forest and over the mountains.
I cannot stay far from you any longer.

I will trudge on, my eyes fixed on my thoughts,
Ignoring everything around me, without hearing a sound,
Alone, unknown, back stooped, hands crossed,
Saddened, and the day for me will be like the night.

I will not see the golden glow of the evening that falls,
Nor the sails going down to Harfleur in the distance,
And when I arrive, I will place on your tomb
A bouquet of green holly and flowering heather.

Victor Hugo

The following poem, ‘Christmas from the Heart’, was written by Judy Burnette, and could provide a way to remember a loved one who has passed away during the year at Christmas time.

Christmas from the Heart

I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face;
The warmth of the wind caressed me
as I stood silently in place.

I felt your touch in the sun today
as its warmth filled the sky;
I closed my eyes for your embrace
and my spirit soared high.

I saw your eyes in the window pane
as I watched the falling rain;
It seemed as each raindrop fell
it quietly said your name.

I held you close in my heart today
it made me feel complete;
You may have died…
but you are not gone
you will always be a part of me.
As long as the sun shines…
the wind blows…
the rain falls…
You will live on inside of me forever
for that is all my heart knows.

Judy Burnette

The following passage would make for a good reading at the funeral or memorial of someone who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

Bright Star 

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priest-like task,
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask,
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors,
No, yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake forever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

John Keats

The following passage would be suited for the funeral of a daughter, sister, aunt or wife. It is called ‘Maidens I’ and was written by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Maidens I

Others must by a long dark way
Stray to the mystic bards,
Or ask someone who has heard them sing
Or touch the magic chords.
Only the maidens question not
The bridges that lead to Dream;
Their luminous smiles are like strands of pearls
On a silver vase agleam.

The maidens’ doors of Life lead out
Where the song of the poet soars,
And out beyond to the great world
To the world beyond the doors.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The following poem is suited for a reading about a person who may have struggled with an illness such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, for quite a while. It is called ‘The Mystic River’, written by Clara A. Merrill.

The Mystic River 

We are sailing down Life’s river
Sailing onward day by day,
Onward, through the misty shadows
That, so dark, obscure the way.
Soon we shall be beckoned homeward,
There to meet with those we know
In that grand and glorious city
Where no sorrows ever go.

We are drifting with the ripples,
As they bear our barque along
We can catch in fitful accents
Echoes from the angels song.
And we see the dim reflection
Of that bright celestial strand;
Where the bowers are ever blooming
In that peaceful, happy land.

We know not how soon we’ll anchor
Where bright gems adorn the shore
Where the living waters murmur,
And the breakers moan no more.
But we’ll reach the pearly portal
And we’ll lay our armor down;
Casting all our burdens from us
’Neath the shelter of a crown.

Near the Throne of Love e’er dwelling,
Sheltered safe from every woe;
No more sorrow, no more weeping,
Naught but glory shall we know.
There we shall be ever happy
In the mansion of the blest;
Blessed be the peace eternal
Blessed is the sweet word—Rest.

Clara A. Merrill

This poem by Emily Dickinson is a short verse in tribute to someone who passed away from illness.

Poem VI

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson

The poem below is not a poem about death, but a poem about love, written by Robert Burns. This would be a lovely poem to read for a wife or husband that has passed away.

A Red, Red Rose 

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

Robert Burns

This passage written by Emily Dickinson, called ‘Purple Clover’, has a happy wistful feeling to it, reminiscing about life.

Purple Clover 

There is a flower that bees prefer,
And butterflies desire;
To gain the purple democrat
The humming-birds aspire.

And whatsoever insect pass,
A honey bears away
Proportioned to his several dearth
And her capacity.

Her face is rounder than the moon,
And ruddier than the gown
Of orchis in the pasture,
Or rhododendron worn.

She doth not wait for June;
Before the world is green
Her sturdy little countenance
Against the wind is seen,

Contending with the grass,
Near kinsman to herself,
For privilege of sod and sun,
Sweet litigants for life.

And when the hills are full,
And newer fashions blow,
Doth not retract a single spice
For pang of jealousy.

Her public is the noon,
Her providence the sun,
Her progress by the bee proclaimed
In sovereign, swerveless tune.

The bravest of the host,
Surrendering the last,
Nor even of defeat aware
When cancelled by the frost.
Emily Dickinson

This poem can be adapted from talking about a father to talk about a grandfather who has died.

My Father was a man who had smiles to brighten your days
who always made you feel good with his warm words of praise.
And what’s more he knew what to do to make wishes come true.
He was my Father.
My Father was someone who always had good stories to tell,
but just as importantly he knew how to be a good listener as well.
He was patient and kind and the very best friend you could ever hope to find.
He was no ordinary man
And I’m proud to tell the world that (Insert your dad’s name here)
Was my Father.

Unknown author

And finally, a toast written by one of our readers, who chose to contribute anonymously.

Here’s to those, and such as those,
And those that we love best.
He’s not here that should have been here,
So here’s to all the rest.
If he’d been here that should have been here,
Our hearts they would have been light.
So here’s to all the company,
That won’t be here tonight!



Published On: 30th Aug 2017

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