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Grief and Death Poetry

words to grieve and celebrate with

 

 
   
 

It can be difficult to find poetry that approaches Death and Dying in a positive way.
We hope that this sampling of poems are of some help.
Please contact us (click here) if you have any further poems to suggest.



Teach Me To Die
Teach me to die
Hold on to my hand
I have so many questions
Things I don’t understand.
Teach me to die
Give all you can give
If you teach me of dying
I’ll teach you to live
Deanna Edwards





Help us to be the always hopeful
Gardeners of the spirit
Who know that without darkness
Nothing comes to birth
As without light
Nothing flowers
.
by May Sarton
from A Passage from Invocation to Kali


.... One leaf atop another
yet under the next,
a vibrant tapestry of arcs and falls
all in the act of becoming.

Death is the passing of life.
And life
is the stringing together of so many little passings.

Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro


And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know that place for the first time.

From T.S. Elliot

 

The wind is a song
that harbours through the winter.
The sail is a door
that bids the song to enter.
Let us sail the sea, good friends,
and let us sing together.
The singer lasts a season long,
while our song, it lasts forever
.
(unknown)

 


Open Sea

When my doing is over
Find me on the open sea...
Letting my being expand

Letting my mind sleep...
I'll be in every drop of water
feeding off the sun...

by Lanxin Curto


Song fills up the soul.
Soul opens the heart.
Heart welcomes the light.
Cherish the night with song.

(unknown)


If you cannot sing like angels,
If you cannot speak before thousands,
You can give from deep within you.
You are like no other being.
What you give,
No other can give.
Namaste.

(unknown)


To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.
(
Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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 over throw
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)

When you were born, you cried,
and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die,
the world cries,
and you rejoice.

(Traditional Navajo)


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Shall be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

(Susan Griffin)



Earth teaches me regeneration
As the seed which rises in the spring….
Earth teaches me to remember with kindness
As dry fields weep with rain.

(Nancy Wood)


…. There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
to the place inside which is unbreakable
and whole,
while learning to sing
.
(Rashani)


Please call me by my true names,
So that I can wake up.
And so the door of my heart can be left open,
The door of compassions.

(Chief Seattle)


Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Who, herself unmoving, harbours the movements
And facilitates the life of the ten thousand creatures
While resting contented, stable, tranquil.
Deep peace of the quest earth to you!

(Mary Rogers, adapted from the Gaelic &
probably the source of various versions of the chant "Deep Peace")


Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.

(Wendall Berry)


…Sun and moon, I smile at you both
And spread my arms in affection
And lay myself down at full length
For the earth to know I love it too
And am never to be separated from it.
In no way shall death part us.

(David Ignatow)

I am there
Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed
Look for me when the trees are bare
And the stars are bright in the frosty sky
When the morning mist hangs on the air
And shorter darker days pass by…….

I am the love you cannot see
And all I ask is - look for me
.
(Iris Hesselden)



To learn how to die cut down a tree,
Watch how so many years fall.
You don't need to have planted it
for it to be your life…….
Count the rings and stand on the stump
and stretch your arms to the sky.
Think only because it was cut down could you do this.
You are standing where no one has stood
But the dark inside a life
That many years.

(Antler)




There are two ways to live your life -
one is as though nothing is a miracle;
the other is as though everything is a miracle.

(Albert Einstein)


Relax into the Darkness
Let if fill your soul.
And loosen all your Separateness
Return unto the Whole.

The One becomes the Many
Then They return to One.
The Light, It brings the Journey:
The Darkness takes us Home.

And may you come again, friend
And may you come again - by spirit -
And may you come again, friend
And Blessed Be those who come Home.

(Pashta MaryMoon - song written for the Dying)


There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.

(Rashani)


"I am standing upon the seashore.
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.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is 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."
(Henry Van Dyke)


Arrayed in some new fleshly disguise,
Another mother gives birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain,
The old soul takes the road again.
(unknown from Pagan Library)


A Prayer for the Dying
Time has passed, the Wheel has turned.
It is time for me to move on.
I will walk hand in hand with the Ancient Ones,
and with my ancestors who came before me.

Great Mother, welcome me back into your womb,
I come to you and know I am blessed,
for my life has been one I am proud of.
As I enter your world, wrap me in your loving arms,

Lord of Death, I wait for you to take me,
I come to you willingly, with eyes wide open,
as my last moment approaches on the horizon.
May I look upon you without fear, without pain,
and knowing that those who walked before me,
await me on the other side.

O Ancient Ones, give me strength to take these final steps,
and allow me to do so with peace and dignity.
Let my family mourn my passing but not my loss,
and let them heal knowing I will see them again.
Time has passed and the Wheel has turned.
It is time for me to move on.
(unknown from Wiccan/PaganAbout)


When I come to the end of the road
When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not for long.
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that once we shared.
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we must all take,
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the master plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends we know,
Laugh at all the things we used to do.
Miss me, but let me go.

(Anonymous thanks to Kath Murray for posting on http://www.lifeanddeathmatters.ca)


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