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Best Famous Funeral Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Funeral poems. This is a select list of the best famous Funeral poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Funeral poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of funeral poems.

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by Jonathan Swift | |

A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General

His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old As by the newspapers we're told? Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 'Twas time in conscience he should die.
This world he cumbered long enough; He burnt his candle to the snuff; And that's the reason, some folks think, He left behind so great a s---k.
Behold his funeral appears, Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, Wont at such times each heart to pierce, Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say, He had those honors in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, He made them weep before he died.
Come hither, all ye empty things, Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings; Who float upon the tide of state, Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, How very mean a thing's a Duke; From all his ill-got honors flung, Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.


by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Doc Hill

I went up and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why? My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral, And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able To hold to the railing of the new life When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree At the grave, Hiding herself, and her grief!


by Edgar Allan Poe | |

The Conqueror Worm

Lo! 't is a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng bewinged bedight

In veils and drowned in tears 
Sit in a theatre to see

A play of hopes and fears 
While the orchestra breathes fitfully

The music of the spheres.
Mimes in the form of God on high Mutter and mumble low And hither and thither fly - Mere puppets they who come and go At bidding of vast formless things That shift the scenery to and fro Flapping from out their Condor wings Invisible Woe! That motley drama! - oh be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased for evermore By a crowd that seize it not Through a circle that ever returneth in To the self-same spot And much of Madness and more of Sin And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see amid the mimic rout A crawling shape intrude! A blood-red thing that writhes from out The scenic solitude! It writhes! - it writhes! - with mortal pangs The mimes become its food And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs In human gore imbued.
Out - out are the lights - out all! And over each quivering form The curtain a funeral pall Comes down with the rush of a storm And the angels all pallid and wan Uprising unveiling affirm That the play is the tragedy "Man" And its hero the Conqueror Worm.


More great poems below...

by Emily Dickinson | |

I felt a funeral in my brain

I felt a funeral in my brain,
   And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
   That sense was breaking through.
And when they all were seated, A service like a drum Kept beating, beating, till I thought My mind was going numb And then I heard them lift a box, And creak across my soul With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll As all the heavens were a bell, And being, but an ear, And I and Silence some strange Race Wrecked, solitary, here.


by Sylvia Plath | |

The Arrival of the Bee Box

I ordered this, clean wood box 
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget Or a square baby Were there not such a din in it.
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight And I can't keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark, With the swarmy feeling of African hands Minute and shrunk for export, Black on black, angrily clambering.
How can I let them out? It is the noise that appalls me most of all, The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob, Small, taken one by one, but my god, together! I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades, And the petticoats of the cherry.
They might ignore me immediately In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey So why should they turn on me? Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |

A Psalm of Life

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist


TELL me not in mournful numbers  
Life is but an empty dream!¡ª 
For the soul is dead that slumbers  
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! 5 And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art to dust returnest Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment and not sorrow Is our destined end or way; 10 But to act that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long and Time is fleeting And our hearts though stout and brave Still like muffled drums are beating 15 Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle In the bivouac of Life Be not like dumb driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! 20 Trust no Future howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act ¡ªact in the living Present! Heart within and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us 25 We can make our lives sublime And departing leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints that perhaps another Sailing o'er life's solemn main 30 A forlorn and shipwrecked brother Seeing shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing With a heart for any fate; Still achieving still pursuing 35 Learn to labor and to wait.


by John Donne | |

The Funeral

WHOEVER comes to shroud me do not harm 
Nor question much 
That subtle wreath of hair about mine arm; 
The mystery the sign you must not touch  
For 'tis my outward soul 5 
Viceroy to that which unto heav'n being gone  
Will leave this to control 
And keep these limbs her provinces from dissolution.
For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall Through every part 10 Can tie those parts and make me one of all; Those hairs which upward grew and strength and art Have from a better brain Can better do 't: except she meant that I By this should know my pain 15 As prisoners then are manacled when they're condemn'd to die.
Whate'er she meant by 't bury it with me For since I am Love's martyr it might breed idolatry If into other hands these reliques came.
20 As 'twas humility T' afford to it all that a soul can do So 'tis some bravery That since you would have none of me I bury some of you.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Crowded Street

LET me move slowly through the street  
Filled with an ever-shifting train  
Amid the sound of steps that beat 
The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
How fast the flitting figures come! 5 The mild the fierce the stony face; Some bright with thoughtless smiles and some Where secret tears have left their trace.
They pass¡ªto toil to strife to rest; To halls in which the feast is spread; 10 To chambers where the funeral guest In silence sits beside the dead.
And some to happy homes repair Where children pressing cheek to cheek With mute caresses shall declare 15 The tenderness they cannot speak.
And some who walk in calmness here Shall shudder as they reach the door Where one who made their dwelling dear Its flower its light is seen no more.
20 Youth with pale cheek and slender frame And dreams of greatness in thine eye! Go'st thou to build an early name Or early in the task to die? Keen son of trade with eager brow! 25 Who is now fluttering in thy snare? Thy golden fortunes tower they now Or melt the glittering spires in air? Who of this crowd to-night shall tread The dance till daylight gleam again? 30 Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead? Who writhe in throes of mortal pain? Some famine-struck shall think how long The cold dark hours how slow the light; And some who flaunt amid the throng 35 Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
Each where his tasks or pleasures call They pass and heed each other not.
There is who heeds who holds them all In His large love and boundless thought.
40 These struggling tides of life that seem In wayward aimless course to tend Are eddies of the mighty stream That rolls to its appointed end.


by Ben Jonson | by Ben Jonson. You can read it on PoetrySoup.com' st_url='http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/23118/On_Chuffe_Banks_the_Usurers______Kinsman' st_title='On Chuffe, Banks the Usurer's Kinsman'>|

On Chuffe, Banks the Usurer's Kinsman


XLIV.
 ? ON CHUFFE, BANKS THE USURER'S KINSMAN.
  
CHUFFE, lately rich in name, in chattels, goods,
    And rich in issue to inherit all,
    Ere blacks were bought for his own funeral,
Saw all his race approach the blacker floods :
    He meant they thither should make swift repair,
    When he made him executor, might be heir.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

On the Funeral of Charles the First

 The castle clock had tolled midnight:
With mattock and with spade,
And silent, by the torches' light,
His corse in earth we laid.
The coffin bore his name, that those Of other years might know, When earth its secrets should disclose, Whose bones were laid below.
"Peace to the dead" no children sung, Slow pacing up the nave,-- No prayers were read, no knell was rung, As deep we dug his grave.
We only heard the winter's wind, In many a sullen gust, As, o'er the open grave inclined, We murmured, "Dust to dust!" A moonbeam from the arch's height Streamed, as we placed the stone; The long aisles started into light, And all the windows shone.
We thought we saw the banners then, That shook along the walls, Whilst the sad shades of mail?d men Were gazing on the stalls.
'Tis gone! again on tombs defaced Sits darkness more profound; And only by the torch we traced The shadows on the ground.
And now the chilling, freezing air Without blew long and loud; Upon our knees we breathed one prayer, Where he slept in his shroud.
We laid the broken marble floor,-- No name, no trace appears,-- And when we closed the sounding door, We thought of him with tears.


by Jean Arp | |

Kaspar Is Dead

 alas our good kaspar is dead.
who will bury a burning flag in the wings of the clouds who will pull black wool over our eyes day by day.
who will turn the coffee mills in the primal barrel.
who will lure the idyllic roe from his petrified paperbag.
who will sneeze oceanliners unbrellas windudders beekeepers spindles of ozone who will pick clean the pyramids' bones.
alas alas alas our good kaspar is dead.
holy saint bong kaspar is dead.
the clappers raise heart-rending echoes of sorrow in the barns of the bells when we murmur his name.
therefore i will only sigh out his surname kaspar kaspar kaspar.
why hast thou forsaken us.
in what shape has thy lovely great soul taken flight.
hast thou changed to a star or a chain made of water in a tropical whirlwind or a teat of black light or a transparent brick in a drum that howls for its craggy existence.
now the soles of our feet and the crowns of our heads have dried up and the fairies are lying half-charred on the funeral piles.
now the black bowling alleys thunder in back of the sun and no one is setting a compass or spinning the wheelbarrow's wheels.
who will eat with the phosphorized rat on the lonely barefooted table.
who will chase the siroccoco devil that's trying to lead off our horses.
who will decipher the monograms scratched on the stars.
his bust shall adorn the mantels of people ennobled by truth through it leaves but small comfort or snuff for his death's head.


by James Henry Leigh Hunt | |

Death

 Come thou, thou last one, whom I recognize,
unbearable pain throughout this body's fabric:
as I in my spirit burned, see, I now burn in thee:
the wood that long resisted the advancing flames
which thou kept flaring, I now am nourishinig
and burn in thee.
My gentle and mild being through thy ruthless fury has turned into a raging hell that is not from here.
Quite pure, quite free of future planning, I mounted the tangled funeral pyre built for my suffering, so sure of nothing more to buy for future needs, while in my heart the stored reserves kept silent.
Is it still I, who there past all recognition burn? Memories I do not seize and bring inside.
O life! O living! O to be outside! And I in flames.
And no one here who knows me.
[Written in December 1926, this poem was the last entry in Rilke's notebook, less than two weeks before his death at age 51.
]


by William Ernest Henley | |

Double Ballade on the Nothingness of Things

 The big teetotum twirls,
And epochs wax and wane
As chance subsides or swirls;
But of the loss and gain
The sum is always plain.
Read on the mighty pall, The weed of funeral That covers praise and blame, The -isms and the -anities, Magnificence and shame:-- "O Vanity of Vanities!" The Fates are subtle girls! They give us chaff for grain.
And Time, the Thunderer, hurls, Like bolted death, disdain At all that heart and brain Conceive, or great or small, Upon this earthly ball.
Would you be knight and dame? Or woo the sweet humanities? Or illustrate a name? O Vanity of Vanities! We sound the sea for pearls, Or drown them in a drain; We flute it with the merles, Or tug and sweat and strain; We grovel, or we reign; We saunter, or we brawl; We search the stars for Fame, Or sink her subterranities; The legend's still the same:-- "O Vanity of Vanities!" Here at the wine one birls, There some one clanks a chain.
The flag that this man furls That man to float is fain.
Pleasure gives place to pain: These in the kennel crawl, While others take the wall.
She has a glorious aim, He lives for the inanities.
What come of every claim? O Vanity of Vanities! Alike are clods and earls.
For sot, and seer, and swain, For emperors and for churls, For antidote and bane, There is but one refrain: But one for king and thrall, For David and for Saul, For fleet of foot and lame, For pieties and profanities, The picture and the frame:-- "O Vanity of Vanities!" Life is a smoke that curls-- Curls in a flickering skein, That winds and whisks and whirls, A figment thin and vain, Into the vast Inane.
One end for hut and hall! One end for cell and stall! Burned in one common flame Are wisdoms and insanities.
For this alone we came:-- "O Vanity of Vanities!" Envoy Prince, pride must have a fall.
What is the worth of all Your state's supreme urbanities? Bad at the best's the game.
Well might the Sage exclaim:-- "O Vanity of Vanities!"


by Marilyn L Taylor | |

At the End

 In another time, a linen winding sheet
would already have been drawn
about her, the funeral drums by now

would have throbbed their dull tattoo
into the shadows writhing 
behind the fire’s eye

while a likeness
of her narrow torso, carved
and studded with obsidian

might have been passed from hand
to hand and rubbed against the bellies
of women with child

and a twist of her gray hair
been dipped in oil
and set alight, releasing the essence

of her life’s elixir, pricking
the nostrils of her children
and her children’s children

whose amber faces nod and shine
like a ring of lanterns
strung around her final flare--

but instead, she lives in this white room
gnawing on a plastic bracelet
as she is emptied, filled and emptied.


by Philip Larkin | |

Dublinesque

 Down stucco sidestreets,
Where light is pewter
And afternoon mist
Brings lights on in shops
Above race-guides and rosaries,
A funeral passes.
The hearse is ahead, But after there follows A troop of streetwalkers In wide flowered hats, Leg-of-mutton sleeves, And ankle-length dresses.
There is an air of great friendliness, As if they were honouring One they were fond of; Some caper a few steps, Skirts held skilfully (Someone claps time), And of great sadness also.
As they wend away A voice is heard singing Of Kitty, or Katy, As if the name meant once All love, all beauty.


by Emma Lazarus | |

In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport

 Here, where the noises of the busy town, 
The ocean's plunge and roar can enter not,
We stand and gaze around with tearful awe,
And muse upon the consecrated spot.
No signs of life are here: the very prayers Inscribed around are in a language dead; The light of the "perpetual lamp" is spent That an undying radiance was to shed.
What prayers were in this temple offered up, Wrung from sad hearts that knew no joy on earth, By these lone exiles of a thousand years, From the fair sunrise land that gave them birth! How as we gaze, in this new world of light, Upon this relic of the days of old, The present vanishes, and tropic bloom And Eastern towns and temples we behold.
Again we see the patriarch with his flocks, The purple seas, the hot blue sky o'erhead, The slaves of Egypt, -- omens, mysteries, -- Dark fleeing hosts by flaming angels led.
A wondrous light upon a sky-kissed mount, A man who reads Jehovah's written law, 'Midst blinding glory and effulgence rare, Unto a people prone with reverent awe.
The pride of luxury's barbaric pomp, In the rich court of royal Solomon -- Alas! we wake: one scene alone remains, -- The exiles by the streams of Babylon.
Our softened voices send us back again But mournful echoes through the empty hall: Our footsteps have a strange unnatural sound, And with unwonted gentleness they fall.
The weary ones, the sad, the suffering, All found their comfort in the holy place, And children's gladness and men's gratitude 'Took voice and mingled in the chant of praise.
The funeral and the marriage, now, alas! We know not which is sadder to recall; For youth and happiness have followed age, And green grass lieth gently over all.
Nathless the sacred shrine is holy yet, With its lone floors where reverent feet once trod.
Take off your shoes as by the burning bush, Before the mystery of death and God.


by Christina Rossetti | |

Marvel of Marvels

 MARVEL of marvels, if I myself shall behold 
With mine own eyes my King in His city of gold; 
Where the least of lambs is spotless white in the fold, 
Where the least and last of saints in spotless white is stoled, 
Where the dimmest head beyond a moon is aureoled.
O saints, my beloved, now mouldering to mould in the mould, Shall I see you lift your heads, see your cerements unroll'd, See with these very eyes? who now in darkness and cold Tremble for the midnight cry, the rapture, the tale untold,-- The Bridegroom cometh, cometh, His Bride to enfold! Cold it is, my beloved, since your funeral bell was toll'd: Cold it is, O my King, how cold alone on the wold!


by Mark Strand | |

A Piece Of The Storm

 For Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
That's all There was to it.
No more than a solemn waking To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly, A time between times, a flowerless funeral.
No more than that Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm, Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back, That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say: "It's time.
The air is ready.
The sky has an opening.
"


by William Strode | |

On John Dawson Butler Of C.C.

 Dawson the Butler's dead: Although I think
Poets were ne'er infusde with single drinke
Ile spend a farthing muse; some watry verse
Will serve the turne to cast upon his hearse;
If any cannot weepe amongst us here
Take off his pott, and so squeeze out a tear:
Weepe, O his cheeses, weepe till yee bee good,
Yee that are dry or in the sun have stood;
In mossy coats und rusty liveries mourne,
Untill like him to ashes you shall turne:
Weep, O ye barrells, lett your drippings fall
In trickling streams: make waste more prodigal
Than when our drinke is badde, that John may flote
To Styx in beere, and lift upp Charon's boate
With wholesome waves.
And as our conduits run With clarett at a Coronation, So lett our channells flow with single tiffe, For John, I hope, is crownde: take off your whiffe, Yee men of Rosemary: Now drinke off all, Remembring 'tis a Butler's funeral: Had he bin master of good double beere, My life for his, John Dawson had beene here.


by Oscar Wilde | |

The Grave Of Keats

 Rid of the world's injustice, and his pain,
He rests at last beneath God's veil of blue:
Taken from life when life and love were new
The youngest of the martyrs here is lain,
Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain.
No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew, But gentle violets weeping with the dew Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain.
O proudest heart that broke for misery! O sweetest lips since those of Mitylene! O poet-painter of our English Land! Thy name was writ in water - it shall stand: And tears like mine will keep thy memory green, As Isabella did her Basil-tree.
ROME.


by Elinor Wylie | |

Death and the Maiden

 BARCAROLE ON THE STYX


Fair youth with the rose at your lips, 
A riddle is hid in your eyes; 
Discard conversational quips, 
Give over elaborate disguise.
The rose's funeral breath Confirms by intuitive fears; To prove your devotion, Sir Death, Avaunt for a dozen of years.
But do not forget to array Your terror in juvenile charms; I shall deeply regret my delay If I sleep in a skeleton's arms.


by Robert William Service | |

No Lilies For Lisette

 Said the Door: "She came in
With no shadow of sin;
Turned the key in the lock,
Slipped out of her frock,
The robe she liked best
When for supper she dressed.
Then a letter she tore .
.
.
What a wan look she wore!" Said the Door.
Said the Chair: "She sat down With a pitiful frown, And then (oh, it's queer) Just one lonely tear Rolled down her pale cheek.
How I hoped she would speak As she let down her hair," Said the Chair.
Said the Glass: "Then she gazed Into me like one dazed; As with delicate grace She made up her face, Her cheeks and her lips With rose finger-tips, So lovely - alas! Then she turned on the gas.
" Said the Glass.
Said the Bed: "Down she lay In a weariful way, Like an innocent child, To her fate reconciled; Hands clasped to her breast, In prayer or in rest: 'Dear Mother,' she said, Then pillowed her head," Said the Bed.
Said the Room: "Then the gleam Of the moon like a dream, Soft silvered my space, And it fell on her face That was never so sweet As her heart ceased to beat .
.
.
Then the moon fled and gloom Fell like funeral plume," Said the Room.
"Just a whore," Said the Door; "Yet so fair," Said the Chair; "Frail, alas!" Said the Glass; "Now she's dead," Said the Bed; "Sorry doom," Said the Room.
.
.
.
Then they all, Floor and wall, Quiet grew, Ceiling too; Like a tomb Was the room; With hushed breath Hailing Death: Soul's release, Silence, Peace.


by Jonathan Swift | |

A Satirical Elegy

 On the Death of a Late FAMOUS GENERAL


His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age, too, and in his bed!
And could that Mighty Warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old As by the news-papers we're told? Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 'Twas time in conscience he should die.
This world he cumber'd long enough; He burnt his candle to the snuff; And that's the reason, some folks think, He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears, Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, Wont at such times each heart to pierce, Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say, He had those honours in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, He made them weep before he dy'd.
Come hither, all ye empty things, Ye bubbles rais'd by breath of Kings; Who float upon the tide of state, Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, How very mean a thing's a Duke; From all his ill-got honours flung, Turn'd to that dirt from whence he sprung.


by Barry Tebb | |

UNCLE BOB

 Shell-shocked from Korea

A grenade that left him

The platoon’s only survivor,

Put him in Stanley Royd

For thirty years.
He tailored there And out on weekend leaves He made and mended Everybody’s clothes, Crying copiously While he sewed.
When they cleared out The chronic cases Uncle Bob came home, Shopping for Edna, Doing the garden; When the lodger left Without a word, the police Searched his room, The garden shed, Even the chest freezer.
Oesophageal cancer Is very final.
John, his son, waiting To take the house, Departed for a month’s fishing Until it was all over.
As a last rite They put him in the LGI But I spoke to the houseman privately, Pulling together the bits of a life Wholly given over to others, Fallen comrades, Edna, The grandchildren His pension went on.
The houseman agreed to speak To the surgeon privately.
Edna went first and At her funeral John, In frustrated fury, Hit him over the head With an empty fish tank.
When secondaries started I was not told And in the hospice He barely lasted His first weekend.


by Dylan Thomas | |

Among Those Killed In The Dawn Raid Was A Man Aged A Hundred

 When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and he died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast blew them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun And the craters of his eyes grew springshots and fire When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart.
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound Assembling waits for the spade's ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from the common cart, The morning is flying on the wings of his age And a hundred storks perch on the sun's right hand.