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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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Written by Randall Jarrell |

Next Day

 Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical Food-gathering flocks Are selves I overlook.
Wisdom, said William James, Is learning what to overlook.
And I am wise If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves And the boy takes it to my station wagon, What I've become Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
When I was young and miserable and pretty And poor, I'd wish What all girls wish: to have a husband, A house and children.
Now that I'm old, my wish Is womanish: That the boy putting groceries in my car See me.
It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me And its mouth watered.
How often they have undressed me, The eyes of strangers! And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile Imaginings within my imagining, I too have taken The chance of life.
Now the boy pats my dog And we start home.
Now I am good.
The last mistaken, Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm Some soap and water-- It was so long ago, back in some Gay Twenties, Nineties, I don't know .
Today I miss My lovely daughter Away at school, my sons away at school, My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid, And I go through the sure unvarying days At home in them.
As I look at my life, I am afraid Only that it will change, as I am changing: I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate, The smile I hate.
Its plain, lined look Of gray discovery Repeats to me: "You're old.
" That's all, I'm old.
And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers, Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me How young I seem; I am exceptional; I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional, No one has anything, I'm anybody, I stand beside my grave Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

Written 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.

Written 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.

More great poems below...

Written 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.

Written by Ogden Nash |

The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus

 In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes, His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes, He hid old ladies' reading glasses, His mouth was open when he chewed, And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens, And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because There wasn't any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez Was crying 'Boo' at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town, Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin, And viewed his antics with a grin, Till they were told by Jabez Dawes, 'There isn't any Santa Claus!' Deploring how he did behave, His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly, And Jabez left the funeral early.
Like whooping cough, from child to child, He sped to spread the rumor wild: 'Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes There isn't any Santa Claus!' Slunk like a weasel of a marten Through nursery and kindergarten, Whispering low to every tot, 'There isn't any, no there's not!' The children wept all Christmas eve And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed, Fresh malice dancing in his head, When presently with scalp-a-tingling, Jabez heard a distant jingling; He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof Crisply alighting on the roof.
What good to rise and bar the door? A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes? The fireplace full of Santa Claus! Then Jabez fell upon his knees With cries of 'Don't,' and 'Pretty Please.
' He howled, 'I don't know where you read it, But anyhow, I never said it!' 'Jabez' replied the angry saint, 'It isn't I, it's you that ain't.
Although there is a Santa Claus, There isn't any Jabez Dawes!' Said Jabez then with impudent vim, 'Oh, yes there is, and I am him! Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't' And suddenly he found he wasn't! From grimy feet to grimy locks, Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box, An ugly toy with springs unsprung, Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal; They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes, Which led to thunderous applause, And people drank a loving cup And went and hung their stockings up.
All you who sneer at Santa Claus, Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes, The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

Written 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!

Written 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.

Written 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.

Written by Edgar Allan Poe |


 Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!- a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear?- weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read- the funeral song be sung!-
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young-
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.
"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride, And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her- that she died! How shall the ritual, then, be read?- the requiem how be sung By you- by yours, the evil eye,- by yours, the slanderous tongue That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?" Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside, Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride.
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies, The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes The life still there, upon her hair- the death upon her eyes.
"Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven- From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven- From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven! Let no bell toll, then,- lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth, Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth! And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise, But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!"

Written by Robert Herrick |

His Meditation Upon Death

 BE those few hours, which I have yet to spend, 
Blest with the meditation of my end; 
Though they be few in number, I'm content; 
If otherwise, I stand indifferent, 
Nor makes it matter, Nestor's years to tell, 
If man lives long, and if he live not well.
A multitude of days still heaped on Seldom brings order, but confusion.
Might I make choice, long life should be with-stood; Nor would I care how short it were, if good; Which to effect, let ev'ry passing bell Possess my thoughts, next comes my doleful knell; And when the night persuades me to my bed, I'll think I'm going to be buried; So shall the blankets which come over me Present those turfs, which once must cover me; And with as firm behaviour I will meet The sheet I sleep in, as my winding-sheet.
When Sleep shall bathe his body in mine eyes, I will believe, that then my body dies; And if I chance to wake, and rise thereon, I'll have in mind my resurrection, Which must produce me to that Gen'ral Doom, To which the peasant, so the prince must come, To hear the Judge give sentence on the Throne, Without the least hope of affection.
Tears, at that day, shall make but weak defense, When Hell and horror fright the conscience.
Let me, though late, yet at the last, begin To shun the least temptation to a sin; Though to be tempted be no sin, until Man to th'alluring object gives his will.
Such let my life assure me, when my breath Goes thieving from me, I am safe in death; Which is the height of comfort, when I fall, I rise triumphant in my funeral.

Written by Langston Hughes |

Night Funeral In Harlem

 Night funeral
 In Harlem:

 Where did they get
 Them two fine cars?

Insurance man, he did not pay--
His insurance lapsed the other day--
Yet they got a satin box
for his head to lay.
Night funeral In Harlem: Who was it sent That wreath of flowers? Them flowers came from that poor boy's friends-- They'll want flowers, too, When they meet their ends.
Night funeral in Harlem: Who preached that Black boy to his grave? Old preacher man Preached that boy away-- Charged Five Dollars His girl friend had to pay.
Night funeral In Harlem: When it was all over And the lid shut on his head and the organ had done played and the last prayers been said and six pallbearers Carried him out for dead And off down Lenox Avenue That long black hearse done sped, The street light At his corner Shined just like a tear-- That boy that they was mournin' Was so dear, so dear To them folks that brought the flowers, To that girl who paid the preacher man-- It was all their tears that made That poor boy's Funeral grand.
Night funeral In Harlem.

Written 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.

Written by Hilaire Belloc |


 Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably

A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker's little daughter Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater (By name Rebecca Offendort), Was given to this furious sport.
She would deliberately go And slam the door like billy-o! To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart, But only rather rude and wild; She was an aggravating child.
It happened that a marble bust Of Abraham was standing just Above the door this little lamb Had carefully prepared to slam, And down it came! It knocked her flat! It laid her out! She looked like that.
Her funeral sermon (which was long And followed by a sacred song) Mentioned her virtues, it is true, But dwelt upon her vices too, And showed the deadful end of one Who goes and slams the door for fun.
The children who were brought to hear The awful tale from far and near Were much impressed, and inly swore They never more would slam the door, -- As often they had done before.

Written by Thomas Gray |

Hymn To Adversity

 Daughter of Jove, relentless Power,
Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge and tort'ring hour
The Bad affright, afflict the Best!
Bound in thy adamantine chain
The Proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple Tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.
When first thy Sire to send on earth Virtue, his darling child, designed, To thee he gave the heav'nly Birth, And bade to form her infant mind.
Stern rugged Nurse! thy rigid lore With patience many a year she bore: What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know, And from her own she learned to melt at others' woe.
Scared at thy frown terrific, fly Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood, Wild Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy, And leave us leisure to be good.
Light they disperse, and with them go The summer Friend, the flatt'ring Foe; By vain Prosperity received, To her they vow their truth, and are again believed.
Wisdom in sable garb arrayed Immersed in rapt'rous thought profound, And Melancholy, silent maid With leaden eye, that loves the ground, Still on thy solemn steps attend: Warm Charity, the gen'ral Friend, With Justice, to herself severe, And Pity dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.
Oh, gently on thy Suppliant's head, Dread Goddess, lay thy chast'ning hand! Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad, Not circled with the vengeful Band (As by the Impious thou art seen), With thund'ring voice, and threat'ning mien, With screaming Horror's funeral cry, Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.
Thy form benign, O Goddess, wear, Thy milder influence impart, Thy philosophic Train be there To soften, not to wound my heart.
The gen'rous spark extinct revive, Teach me to love and to forgive, Exact my own defects to scan, What others are, to feel, and know myself a Man.

Written by Rupert Brooke |

The Funeral of Youth: Threnody

 The Day that Youth had died,
There came to his grave-side, 
In decent mourning, from the country’s ends, 
Those scatter’d friends 
Who had lived the boon companions of his prime,
And laughed with him and sung with him and wasted, 
In feast and wine and many-crown’d carouse, 
The days and nights and dawnings of the time 
When Youth kept open house, 
Nor left untasted
Aught of his high emprise and ventures dear, 
No quest of his unshar’d— 
All these, with loitering feet and sad head bar’d, 
Followed their old friend’s bier.
Folly went first, With muffled bells and coxcomb still revers’d; And after trod the bearers, hat in hand— Laughter, most hoarse, and Captain Pride with tanned And martial face all grim, and fussy Joy Who had to catch a train, and Lust, poor, snivelling boy; These bore the dear departed.
Behind them, broken-hearted, Came Grief, so noisy a widow, that all said, “Had he but wed Her elder sister Sorrow, in her stead!” And by her, trying to soothe her all the time, The fatherless children, Colour, Tune, and Rhyme (The sweet lad Rhyme), ran all-uncomprehending.
Then, at the way’s sad ending, Round the raw grave they stay’d.
Old Wisdom read, In mumbling tone, the Service for the Dead.
There stood Romance, The furrowing tears had mark’d her roug?d cheek; Poor old Conceit, his wonder unassuaged; Dead Innocency’s daughter, Ignorance; And shabby, ill-dress’d Generosity; And Argument, too full of woe to speak; Passion, grown portly, something middle-aged; And Friendship—not a minute older, she; Impatience, ever taking out his watch; Faith, who was deaf, and had to lean, to catch Old Wisdom’s endless drone.
Beauty was there, Pale in her black; dry-eyed; she stood alone.
Poor maz’d Imagination; Fancy wild; Ardour, the sunlight on his greying hair; Contentment, who had known Youth as a child And never seen him since.
And Spring came too, Dancing over the tombs, and brought him flowers— She did not stay for long.
And Truth, and Grace, and all the merry crew, The laughing Winds and Rivers, and lithe Hours; And Hope, the dewy-eyed; and sorrowing Song;— Yes, with much woe and mourning general, At dead Youth’s funeral, Even these were met once more together, all, Who erst the fair and living Youth did know; All, except only Love.
Love had died long ago.