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Best Famous Obituary Poems

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

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Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Living Dead

 Since I have come to years sedate
I see with more and more acumen
The bitter irony of Fate,
The vanity of all things human.
Why, just to-day some fellow said, As I surveyed Fame's outer portal: "By gad! I thought that you were dead.
" Poor me, who dreamed to be immortal! But that's the way with many men Whose name one fancied time-defying; We thought that they were dust and then We found them living by their dying.
Like dogs we penmen have our day, To brief best-sellerdom elected; And then, "thumbs down," we slink away And die forgotten and neglected.
Ah well, my lyric fling I've had; A thousand bits of verse I've minted; And some, alas! were very bad, And some, alack! were best unprinted.
But if I've made my muse a bawd (Since I am earthy as a ditch is), I'll answer humbly to my God: Most men at times have toyed with bitches.
Yes, I have played with Lady Rhyme, And had a long and lovely innings; And when the Umpire calls my time I'll blandly quit and take my winnings.
I'll hie me to some Sleepydale, And feed the ducks and pat the poodles, And prime my paunch with cakes and ale, And blether with the village noodles.
And then some day you'll idly scan The Times obituary column, And say: "Dear me, the poor old man!" And for a moment you'll look solemn.
"So all this time he's been alive - In realms of rhyme a second-rater .
.
.
But gad! to live to ninety-five: Let's toast his ghost - a sherry, waiter!"


Written by Taja Kramberger | Create an image from this poem

Every Dead One Has a Name

Every dead one has a name,
only the names of the living make us falter.
Some names are impossible to utter without a stammer and a fidget, some can only be spoken through allusion, and some, mostly women’s, are forbidden in these parts.
Every dead one has a name, engraved in stone, printed in obituary or directory, but my name must be undermined, every few years soiled and substituted with another one.
A decade ago, a high-ranking party official warned me: Stay a poet, as long as there’s still time.
Still time? Time for what? I have also become a social scientist and an editor and an organiser and a translator and an activist and a university teacher.
Unbearable - all these things - all trespasses of the old parcel borders that were drawn by the dirty fingers of fraternities.
I air all the rooms, I ignore all the ratings, I open all the valvelets.
And they have put me out in the cold – like the dead.
But every dead one has a name.
© Taja Kramberger, Z roba klifa / From the Edge of a Cliff, CSK, Ljubljana, 2011 © Translation by Špela Drnovšek Zorko, 2012
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

One Viceroy Resigns

 So here's your Empire.
No more wine, then? Good.
We'll clear the Aides and khitmatgars away.
(You'll know that fat old fellow with the knife -- He keeps the Name Book, talks in English too, And almost thinks himself the Government.
) O Youth, Youth, Youth! Forgive me, you're so young.
Forty from sixty -- twenty years of work And power to back the working.
Ay def mi! You want to know, you want to see, to touch, And, by your lights, to act.
It's natural.
I wonder can I help you.
Let me try.
You saw -- what did you see from Bombay east? Enough to frighten any one but me? Neat that! It frightened Me in Eighty-Four! You shouldn't take a man from Canada And bid him smoke in powder-magazines; Nor with a Reputation such as -- Bah! That ghost has haunted me for twenty years, My Reputation now full blown -- Your fault -- Yours, with your stories of the strife at Home, Who's up, who's down, who leads and who is led -- One reads so much, one hears so little here.
Well, now's your turn of exile.
I go back To Rome and leisure.
All roads lead to Rome, Or books -- the refuge of the destitute.
When you .
.
.
that brings me back to India.
See! Start clear.
I couldn't.
Egypt served my turn.
You'll never plumb the Oriental mind, And if you did it isn't worth the toil.
Think of a sleek French priest in Canada; Divide by twenty half-breeds.
Multiply By twice the Sphinx's silence.
There's your East, And you're as wise as ever.
So am I.
Accept on trust and work in darkness, strike At venture, stumble forward, make your mark, (It's chalk on granite), then thank God no flame Leaps from the rock to shrivel mark and man.
I'm clear -- my mark is made.
Three months of drought Had ruined much.
It rained and washed away The specks that might have gathered on my Name.
I took a country twice the size of France, And shuttered up one doorway in the North.
I stand by those.
You'll find that both will pay, I pledged my Name on both -- they're yours to-night.
Hold to them -- they hold fame enough for two.
I'm old, but I shall live till Burma pays.
Men there -- not German traders -- Crsthw-te knows -- You'll find it in my papers.
For the North Guns always -- quietly -- but always guns.
You've seen your Council? Yes, they'll try to rule, And prize their Reputations.
Have you met A grim lay-reader with a taste for coins, And faith in Sin most men withhold from God? He's gone to England.
R-p-n knew his grip And kicked.
A Council always has its H-pes.
They look for nothing from the West but Death Or Bath or Bournemouth.
Here's their ground.
They fight Until the middle classes take them back, One of ten millions plus a C.
S.
I.
Or drop in harness.
Legion of the Lost? Not altogether -- earnest, narrow men, But chiefly earnest, and they'll do your work, And end by writing letters to the Times, (Shall I write letters, answering H-nt-r -- fawn With R-p-n on the Yorkshire grocers? Ugh!) They have their Reputations.
Look to one -- I work with him -- the smallest of them all, White-haired, red-faced, who sat the plunging horse Out in the garden.
He's your right-hand man, And dreams of tilting W-ls-y from the throne, But while he dreams gives work we cannot buy; He has his Reputation -- wants the Lords By way of Frontier Roads.
Meantime, I think, He values very much the hand that falls Upon his shoulder at the Council table -- Hates cats and knows his business; which is yours.
Your business! twice a hundered million souls.
Your business! I could tell you what I did Some nights of Eighty-Five, at Simla, worth A Kingdom's ransom.
When a big ship drives, God knows to what new reef the man at the whee! Prays with the passengers.
They lose their lives, Or rescued go their way; but he's no man To take his trick at the wheel again -- that's worse Than drowning.
Well, a galled Mashobra mule (You'll see Mashobra) passed me on the Mall, And I was -- some fool's wife and ducked and bowed To show the others I would stop and speak.
Then the mule fell -- three galls, a hund-breadth each, Behind the withers.
Mrs.
Whatsisname Leers at the mule and me by turns, thweet thoul! "How could they make him carry such a load!" I saw -- it isn't often I dream dreams -- More than the mule that minute -- smoke and flame From Simla to the haze below.
That's weak.
You're younger.
You'll dream dreams before you've done.
You've youth, that's one -- good workmen -- that means two Fair chances in your favor.
Fate's the third.
I know what I did.
Do you ask me, "Preach"? I answer by my past or else go back To platitudes of rule -- or take you thus In confidence and say: "You know the trick: You've governed Canada.
You know.
You know!" And all the while commend you to Fate's hand (Here at the top on loses sight o' God), Commend you, then, to something more than you -- The Other People's blunders and .
.
.
that's all.
I'd agonize to serve you if I could.
It's incommunicable, like the cast That drops the tackle with the gut adry.
Too much -- too little -- there's your salmon lost! And so I tell you nothing --with you luck, And wonder -- how I wonder! -- for your sake And triumph for my own.
You're young, you're young, You hold to half a hundred Shibboleths.
I'm old.
I followed Power to the last, Gave her my best, and Power followed Me.
It's worth it -- on my sould I'm speaking plain, Here by the claret glasses! -- worth it all.
I gave -- no matter what I gave -- I win.
I know I win.
Mine's work, good work that lives! A country twice the size of France -- the North Safeguarded.
That's my record: sink the rest And better if you can.
The Rains may serve, Rupees may rise -- three pence will give you Fame -- It's rash to hope for sixpence -- If they rise Get guns, more guns, and lift the salt-tax.
Oh! I told you what the Congress meant or thought? I'll answer nothing.
Half a year will prove The full extent of time and thought you'll spare To Congress.
Ask a Lady Doctor once How little Begums see the light -- deduce Thence how the True Reformer's child is born.
It's interesting, curious .
.
.
and vile.
I told the Turk he was a gentlman.
I told the Russian that his Tartar veins Bled pure Parisian ichor; and he purred.
The Congress doesn't purr.
I think it swears.
You're young -- you'll swear to ere you've reached the end.
The End! God help you, if there be a God.
(There must be one to startle Gl-dst-ne's soul In that new land where all the wires are cut.
And Cr-ss snores anthems on the asphodel.
) God help you! And I'd help you if I could, But that's beyond me.
Yes, your speech was crude.
Sound claret after olives -- yours and mine; But Medoc slips into vin ordinaire.
(I'll drink my first at Genoa to your health.
) Raise it to Hock.
You'll never catch my style.
And, after all, the middle-classes grip The middle-class -- for Brompton talk Earl's Court.
Perhaps you're right.
I'll see you in the Times -- A quarter-column of eye-searing print, A leader once a quarter -- then a war; The Strand abellow through the fog: "Defeat!" "'Orrible slaughter!" While you lie awake And wonder.
Oh, you'll wonder ere you're free! I wonder now.
The four years slide away So fast, so fast, and leave me here alone.
R-y, C-lv-n, L-l, R-b-rts, B-ck, the rest, Princes and Powers of Darkness troops and trains, (I cannot sleep in trains), land piled on land, Whitewash and weariness, red rockets, dust, White snows that mocked me, palaces -- with draughts, And W-stl-nd with the drafts he couldn't pay, Poor W-ls-n reading his obituary.
Before he died, and H-pe, the man with bones, And A-tch-s-n a dripping mackintosh At Council in the Rains, his grating "Sirrr" Half drowned by H-nt-r's silky: "Bat my lahnd.
" Hunterian always: M-rsh-l spinning plates Or standing on his head; the Rent Bill's roar, A hundred thousand speeches, must red cloth, And Smiths thrice happy if I call them Jones, (I can't remember half their names) or reined My pony on the Mall to greet their wives.
More trains, more troops, more dust, and then all's done.
Four years, and I forget.
If I forget How will they bear me in their minds? The North Safeguarded -- nearly (R-b-rts knows the rest), A country twice the size of France annexed.
That stays at least.
The rest may pass -- may pass -- Your heritage -- and I can teach you nought.
"High trust," "vast honor," "interests twice as vast," "Due reverence to your Council" -- keep to those.
I envy you the twenty years you've gained, But not the five to follow.
What's that? One? Two! -- Surely not so late.
Good-night.
Don't dream.
Written by John Berryman | Create an image from this poem

Dream Song 79: Op. posth. no. 2

 Whence flew the litter whereon he was laid?
Of what heroic stuff was warlock Henry made?
and questions of that sort
perplexed the bulging cosmos, O in short
was sandalwood in good supply when he
flared out of history

& the obituary in The New York Times
into the world of generosity
creating the air where are
& can be, only, heroes? Statues & rhymes
signal his fiery Passage, a mountainous sea,
the occlusion of a star:

anything afterward, of a high lament,
let too his giant faults appear, as sent
together with his virtues down
and let this day be his, throughout the town,
region & cosmos, lest he freeze our blood
with terrible returns.
Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem

FOR JAMES SIMMONS

 Sitting in outpatients

With my own minor ills

Dawn’s depression lifts

To the lilt of amitryptilene,

A double dose for a day’s journey

To a distant ward.
The word was out that Simmons Had died eighteen months after An aneurism at sixty seven.
The meeting he proposed in his second letter Could never happen: a few days later A Christmas card in Gaelic - Nollaig Shona - Then silence, an unbearable chasm Of wondering if I’d inadvertently offended.
A year later a second card explained the silence: I joined the queue of mourners: It was August when I saw the Guardian obituary Behind glass in the Poetry Library.
How astonishing the colour photo, The mane of white hair, The proud mien, the wry smile, Perfect for a bust by Epstein Or Gaudier Brjeska a century earlier.
I stood by the shelves Leafing through your books With their worn covers, Remarking the paucity Of recent borrowings And the ommisions From the anthologies.
“I’m a bit out of fashion But still bringing out books Armitage didn’t put me in at all The egregarious Silkin Tried to get off with my wife - May he rest in peace.
I can’t remember what angered me About Geoffrey Hill, quite funny In a nervous, melancholic way, A mask you wouldn’t get behind.
Harrison and I were close for years But it sort of faded when he wrote He wanted to hear no more Of my personal life.
I went to his reading in Galway Where he walked in his cosy regalia Crossed the length of the bar To embrace me, manic about the necessity Of doing big shows in the Balkans.
I taught him all he knows, says aging poet! And he’s forgotten the best bits, He knows my work, how quickly vanity will undo a man.
Tom Blackburn was Gregory Fellow In my day, a bit mad But a good and kind poet.
” I read your last book The Company of Children, You sent me to review - Your best by so far It seemed an angel Had stolen your pen - The solitary aging singer Whispering his last song.
Written by Omer Tarin | Create an image from this poem

Mohenjodaro Reviisited

I.
You are not dead Why do they call you Mohen-jo-daro, “ Mounds-of-the-Dead”? You are not dead! You have never been dead Or buried Or cremated By the scorching banks of the Sindhu; Historians have conspired against you A thousand and one tales Have besmirched your name Misguided fools have imagined Your obituary to be true; Sentimental fools have sung elegies By their own graves Garlanded their own biers, Cursed the stars and howled at the heavens Self-piteous tears, in the hope That some part of their practiced grief would be remembered As poetry, A fitting tribute to your eternal face; Maybe, they would be able to, by their ululations, Raise demons from the earth Or bring forth spectres From darkest shadows of the thinnest air, precipitating Some prophecy, nameless and foreboding, a small Tin medal on their pathetic breasts, Stark in their hunger for inspired flights; Other dust should fashion other jars, not having the consistency Of ours.
It has been foretold that you will not die That you will not die thus, at the behest of historians Or for the research of archaeologists Or even the yapping lap-dogs Aping the tawny shades of our leonine skins; It has been foretold, And we are witnesses to you survival.
II.
Priest-Kings and dancing girls The sands have shifted, As the river has--- You are only abandoned, “Mound-abandoned-and-shifted”.
Take heart! Be not sad, The sons of Sindhu are around you; You cannot die while your sons live, While the children of the river still ply their wide boats On your consort’s undulating breast; While your daughters carry their vessels Fashioned from your clay; In every face, you are alive.
In the mien of priest-kings who have renounced Their crowns and pulpits for lives of love and freedom— At Bhit Shah, they sing your songs; At Sehwan, they celebrate your being; In every prayer and call to prayer you are revealed Rising gradually towards the heights of Kirthar Rolling ceaselessly over the sands of Kutch With every partridge crooning in the cotton, With every mallard winging over Manchar, You come forth— The Breaker-of-the-Shackles-of-Tyranny The-Keeper-of-the-Honour-of-Dancing –girls Friend-of-the-Imprisoned-Hari Last-Flower-amidst-the-Thorns-of-Despair! You are the yellow turmeric staining the red ajrak Of our wounds Anointing your martyrs Healing your casualties Soothing us with your whispered lullaby Such as our mothers used to sing us In our cradles From the earliest dawn of creation; Even now, your humped oxen plod home in the evening Of their tillage; Every day I hear the rise and fall of your undeciphered script In the cadences of children In the chattering of women In the murmur of lovers In the gestures of old men In the anger of the young.
III.
A Dream Untold It was said, long ago, that you will not die That forever you will live in the eyes of every child, That you will rise from your gargantuan sleep, Arise, woken by the winds! When the Eastern Gates of your citadel are opened wide All wars will cease Your sons will no longer flinch under the lash, Your daughters will no longer be distraught, The pillars of fire and smoke will settle down And the silent waste-lands speak with voices of prophecy; When precious stones will once again etch the bright circumference Of your ruins And the heavens shake themselves into fleeting shapes, Vain and irresolute constellations plunge Into narrow circles of despair— It has been said that you will flourish again, When the crashing shores Of sea and river Melt into each other When waves shiver Into the rock’s embrace.
Then I, too, shall awaken, I trust, And behold you in your truth.
------------ * (c) Omer Tarin.
Pub ''The Glasgow Seeker'', UK, 2005