Whether you’re planning a funeral service or attending one, there are many things to consider — not the least of which is what exactly to say. If you are struggling to find the right words for a eulogy, a memorial reading, or a condolence card, let the following funeral poems help you. Some of these poems are elegant memorials to those who have died, others grapple with the universal experience of death, a few even have a touch of humor, so there’s a good chance that whatever tone you wish to strike, you will find the perfect funeral poem here. 

 

Most Popular Funeral Poems

There’s a reason these poems are popular for funerals — they capture the feelings of grief or provide words of comfort for loved ones left behind.

 

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

One of the most popular poems to read at a funeral, Dylan Thomas’ words are a stirring reminder of those who fully lived life. 

 

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

 Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye

This poem is a beautiful reminder that your loved one lives on around you.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep 

I am not there. I do not sleep. 

I am a thousand winds that blow. 

I am the diamond glints on snow…”

 

Death is Nothing at All by Henry Scott Holland

Many people find this poem comforting — it provides a sense of continuity, a sense that the person you love hasn’t died, they’re just waiting for you somewhere else. 

 

“Life means all that it ever meant. 

It is the same as it ever was. 

There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 

What is this death but a negligible accident? 

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 

somewhere very near, 

just round the corner.”

 

Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

Since most people don’t want to think of death as the end, alluding to immortality makes this poem especially popular for funerals.

 

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –

The Dews drew quivering and Chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity –

 

Short Funeral Poems

If the combination of grief and public speaking are almost too much to think about but you want to honor your loved one with a brief reading, the following short poems are perfect for a funeral.  

 

There is No Light Without a Dawning by Helen Steiner Rice

This short poem is often used for funerals because it reminds everyone in attendance that there is something bright beyond death. 

 

No winter without a spring

And beyond the dark horizon

Our hearts will once more sing ….

For those who leave us for a while

Have only gone away

Out of a restless, care worn world

Into a brighter day 

 

Warm Summer Sun by Walt Whitman 

This poem is perfect for a summer graveside service and is both poignant and to the point — wishing peace for your loved one while also saying goodbye. 

 

Warm summer sun,

    Shine kindly here,

Warm southern wind,

    Blow softly here.

Green sod above,

    Lie light, lie light.

Good night, dear heart,

    Good night, good night.

 

The Life That I Have Poem by Leo Marks

This short funeral poem is often used with spouses but it is fitting for any of your loved ones.

 

The life that I have 

Is all that I have 

And the life that I have 

Is yours 

The love that I have

Of the life that I have 

Is yours and yours and yours. 

A sleep I shall have

A rest I shall have 

Yet death will be but a pause

For the peace of my years 

In the long green grass 

Will be yours and yours and yours. 

 

Funeral Poems for Dad

Fathers are often our first champions, lending us their wisdom throughout our lives. If you want a fitting funeral poem for your dad, one of the following may suit perfectly. 

 

Away by James Whitcomb Riley

This poem a bit lighter than some memorial poems, encouraging the reader to — 

 

Think of him faring on, as dear

In the love of There as the love of Here.

Think of him still as the same. I say,

He is not dead—he is just away.

 

Crossing the Bar by Lord Alfred Tennyson

This funeral poem can be used for anyone but it is particularly suited for male loved ones, especially fathers. It embraces death as the beginning of a journey instead of the end.

 

“Twilight and evening bell,

      And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

      When I embark;

 For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

      The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

      When I have crost the bar.”

 

Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is a beautiful poem for dad’s funeral.

Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea;

And the hunter home from the hill.

 

Funeral Poems for Mom

Losing your mom is one of life’s most difficult experiences. If you are celebrating your mother’s life, one of the following poems may honor her in just the way you want. 

 

The Gardener LXI (Peace My Heart) by Rabindranath Tagore

This poem is a hopeful wish for peace and a beautiful tribute to mom ending with:

 

Let the last touch of your hands be

gentle like the flower of the night.

Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a

moment, and say your last words in

silence.

I bow to you and hold up my lamp

to light you on your way.

You’ve Just Walked on Ahead of Me by Joyce Grenfell

This funeral poem is especially suited to moms, our first caretaker.

I try and cope the best I can

But I’m missing you so much

If I could only see you

And once more feel your touch.

Yes, you’ve just walked on ahead of me

Don’t worry I’ll be fine

But now and then I swear I feel

Your hand slip into mine.

 

Sonnets Are Full of Love by Christina Rossetti

Written as a funeral poem from a daughter to her mother, this poem ends with:

 

“I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath

      Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honoured name:

      In you not fourscore years can dim the flame

Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws

   Of time and change and mortal life and death.”

 

She is Gone by David Harkins

This poem encompasses both the pain of losing the woman you hold dearest and the gratitude for her existence. 

 

“You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared”

 

Funeral Poems for Grandma

Grandmothers are a special part of our hearts and deserve to be honored with their own special funeral poems. 

 

Life by Charlotte Bronte

This poem is well suited for grandmothers who were the matriarchs of the family, the supporter of generations saying:

Yet hope again elastic springs,

Unconquered, though she fell;

Still buoyant are her golden wings,

Still strong to bear us well.

 

Remember Me by Christina Rossetti

This poem echoes the sentiments of many by encouraging loved ones left behind to remember but not grieve too deeply.

 

Remember me when I am gone away, 

         Gone far away into the silent land; 

         When you can no more hold me by the hand, 

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. 

Remember me when no more day by day 

         You tell me of our future that you plann'd: 

         Only remember me; you understand 

It will be late to counsel then or pray. 

Yet if you should forget me for a while 

         And afterwards remember, do not grieve: 

         For if the darkness and corruption leave 

         A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 

Better by far you should forget and smile 

         Than that you should remember and be sad.

 

God's Garden by Katie Evans

This poem’s a tribute to all, but is well-suited for grandmothers saying:

 

He put his arms around you

And lifted you to rest.

God’s garden must be beautiful

He always takes the best

Funeral Poems for Grandpa

While losing a grandfather is hard, you can celebrate the joy they brought with these verses. 

A Song of Living by Amelia Josephine Burr

This is a beautiful funeral poem for someone who has lived a long and joyful life:

“I give a share of my soul to the world where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I must leave undone.”

A Happy Man by Edwin Arlington Robinson

This poem celebrates the life of the dead man as much as it does the legacy of his loving family.

“When these graven lines you see, 

Traveller, do not pity me; 

Though I be among the dead, 

Let no mournful word be said.”

 

Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This reading defines success as “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children”, among other things — perfect for a widely loved man.

 

“What is success?

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the 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 even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

 

Funeral Poems for Brother

When we lose a brother, we lose a friend as well as a piece of our shared histories. If you want to honor your brother’s life with a funeral poem, the following odes are perfect.

 

Sing Me a Song of a Lad That is Gone by Robert Louis Stevenson

This poem is full of reminiscence and mourning with a favorite line saying:

 

“Give me again all that was there, 

Give me the sun that shone! 

Give me the eyes, give me the soul, 

Give me the lad that’s gone!“

 

Consolation by Robert Louis Stevenson 

Brothers can be more than siblings, they can be our best friends and this funeral poem is a gentle reminder of that fact. 

 

Though he, that ever kind and true, 

Kept stoutly step by step with you, 

Your whole long, gusty lifetime through, 

Be gone a while before, 

Be now a moment gone before, 

Yet, doubt not, soon the seasons shall restore 

Your friend to you. 

He has but turned the corner — still 

He pushes on with right good will, 

Through mire and marsh, by heugh and hill, 

That self-same arduous way — 

That self-same upland, hopeful way, 

That you and he through many a doubtful day 

Attempted still. 

He is not dead, this friend — not dead, 

But in the path we mortals tread 

Got some few, trifling steps ahead 

And nearer to the end; 

So that you too, once past the bend, 

Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend 

You fancy dead. 

Push gaily on, strong heart! The while 

You travel forward mile by mile, 

He loiters with a backward smile 

Till you can overtake, 

And strains his eyes to search his wake, 

Or whistling, as he sees you through the brake, 

Waits on a stile. 

 

On Death by Kahlil Gibran 

From Gibran’s epic poem “The Prophet” comes this reading “On Death”, which includes the poetic verse “For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” There is a spiritual element to this poem which makes it suitable for both religious and secular memorials.

 

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.

     And he said:

     You would know the secret of death.

     But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

     The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

     If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

     For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

     In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

     And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

     Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

     Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

     Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

     Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

     For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

     And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

     Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

     And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

     And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

 

Funeral Poems for Sister

Sisters can be our closest friends, sharing parents as well as the journey of life with us. If you want to honor the life your sister shared with you, one of the following verses may be perfect.

 

I am standing upon the seashore by Henry Van Dyke

This poem uses the metaphor of a ship to describe the experience of death and serves as a reminder that leaving this plane of existence may just be a transition.

 

“just at the moment when someone 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!”

 

On the Death of Anne Bronte by Charlotte Bronte

Written by a grieving sister, this oft-recited funeral poem captures the heartbreak that comes with losing your first friend.

 

THERE 's little joy in life for me,

And little terror in the grave ;

I 've lived the parting hour to see

Of one I would have died to save.

Calmly to watch the failing breath,

Wishing each sigh might be the last ;

Longing to see the shade of death

O'er those belovèd features cast.

The cloud, the stillness that must part

The darling of my life from me ;

And then to thank God from my heart,

To thank Him well and fervently ;

Although I knew that we had lost

      The hope and glory of our life;

And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,

      Must bear alone the weary strife.

 

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

A very popular funeral poem, this one has a loving tone, perfect for when you want to bring some light into the service.

 

“One shade the more, one ray the less, 

Had half impaired the nameless grace 

Which waves in every raven tress, 

Or softly lightens o’er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.”

 

Funeral Poems For A Friend

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves— they celebrate our victories and they grieve alongside us. The following verses are perfect funeral poems to celebrate the life of your faithful friend. 

 

Remember by Christina Rosettii

Written from the view of the person who has died, this poem is the loving wish for the lives of those still alive to go on and still find happiness. 

 

Remember me when I am gone away, 

         Gone far away into the silent land; 

         When you can no more hold me by the hand, 

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. 

Remember me when no more day by day 

         You tell me of our future that you plann'd: 

         Only remember me; you understand 

It will be late to counsel then or pray. 

Yet if you should forget me for a while 

         And afterwards remember, do not grieve: 

         For if the darkness and corruption leave 

         A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 

Better by far you should forget and smile 

         Than that you should remember and be sad.

 

Epitaph on my Own Friend by Robert Burns

This poem is a favorite for its simplicity ending with “If there’s another world, he lives in bliss; If there is none, he made the best of this.”

 

An honest man here lies at rest,

As e’er God with His image blest:

The friend of man, the friend of truth;

The friend of age, and guide of youth:

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,

Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

 

Walking With Grief a Celtic Prayer

This funeral poem reminds us to sit and be present with the loss saying “Do not hurry

as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey.”

 

Do not hurry

as you walk with grief;

it does not help the journey.

 

Walk slowly, pausing often:

do not hurry

as you walk with grief.

 

Be not disturbed

by memories that come unbidden.

Swiftly forgive;

and let Christ speak for you

unspoken words.

Unfinished conversation

will be resolved in Him.

Be not disturbed.

 

Be gentle with the one

who walks with grief.

If it is you,

be gentle with yourself.

Swiftly forgive;

walk slowly,

pausing often.

 

Take time, be gentle

as you walk with grief.

 

Farewell my Friends by Rabindranath Tagore

This poem is written from the perspective of the dead, looking back on life and all of the beauty in it. 

 

It was beautiful

as long as it lasted

the journey of my life.

I have no regrets

whatsoever save

the pain I’ll leave behind.

Those dear hearts

who love and care

and the heavy with sleep

ever moist eyes.

The smile, in spite of a

lump in the throat

and the strings pulling

at the heart and soul.

The strong arms

that held me up

when my own strength

let me down.

Each morsel that I was

fed with was full of love divine.

At every turning of my life

I came across

good friends.

Friends who stood by me

even when the time raced by.

Farewell, Farewell

my friends.

I smile and bid you goodbye.

No, shed no tears,

for I need them not

All I need is your smile.

If you feel sad

think of me

for that’s what I’d like.

When you live in the hearts

of those you love,

remember then….

you never die.

 

Funny Funeral Poems

While a funeral can be a somber occasion, maybe you or your loved one want to add a bit of levity, if so, here are some lighter-hearted poems for a farewelling. 

 

Pardon Me For Not Getting Up by Kelly Roper

This poem is perfect for those who were never so serious in life and who wouldn’t want their funerals to be tear soaked affairs.

 

Oh dear, if you’re reading this right now,

I must have given up the ghost.

I hope you can forgive me for being

Such a stiff and unwelcoming host.

Just talk amongst yourself my friends,

And share a toast or two.

For I am sure you will remember well

How I loved to drink with you.

Don’t worry about mourning me,

I was never easy to offend.

Feel free to share a story at my expense

And we’ll have a good laugh at the end.

 

Last Will and Testament by Max Scratchmann

A lighthearted wish for those left behind:

 

And as I sit upon my cloud and look down at the earth,

I’ll watch you use my worldly goods for festival and mirth,

And that will make me smile a smile, and have a laugh quite hearty,

To hear you say, the bugger’s dead, let’s have ourselves a party.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray

Songs are poetry as well and this lyric offers a playful view on death:

 

“When I turn up my toes, when I rattle my clack, when I agonise,

I want no great wet weepings, no tearing of hair, no wringing of hands,

No sighs, no lack-a-days, no woe-is-me's and none of your sad adieus.

Go, go, go and get the priest and then go get the booze, boys.”

 

Modern Funeral Poems

If all of the classics are a bit too stiff for you, one of these modern funeral poems may be exactly what you’re looking for.

 

It Was Like This: You Were Happy by Jane Hirshfield

A funeral poem for an authentic life.

 

It was like this:

you were happy, then you were sad,

then happy again, then not.

It went on.

You were innocent or you were guilty.

Actions were taken, or not.

At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.

Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.

It does this not in forgiveness—

between you, there is nothing to forgive—

but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment

he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they will make of you

or your days: they will be wrong,

they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,

all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,

you slept, you awakened.

Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.

 

Cold by Carol Ann Duffy

A poem full of heartbreak over a mother’s death.

 

It felt so cold, the snowball which wept in my hands,

and when I rolled it along in the snow, it grew

till I could sit on it, looking back at the house,

where it was cold when I woke in my room, the windows

blind with ice, my breath undressing itself on the air.

Cold, too, embracing the torso of snow which I lifted up

in my arms to build a snowman, my toes, burning, cold

in my winter boots; my mother's voice calling me in

from the cold. And her hands were cold from peeling

then dipping potatoes into a bowl, stopping to cup

her daughter’s face, a kiss for both cold cheeks, my cold nose.

But nothing so cold as the February night I opened the door

in the Chapel of Rest where my mother lay, neither young, nor old,

where my lips, returning her kiss to her brow, knew the meaning of cold.

 

Death by Joe Brainard

A secular and blunt funeral poem with an almost dry humor throughout:

 

Death is a funny thing. Most people are afraid of it, and yet

they don't even know what it is.

           Perhaps we can clear this up.

           What is death?

           Death is it. That's it. Finished. "Finito." Over and out. No

more.

           Death is many different things to many different people. I

think it is safe to say, however, that most people don't like it.

            Why?

            Because they are afraid of it.

            Why are they afraid of it?

            Because they don't understand it.

           I think that the best way to try to understand death is to

think about it a lot. Try to come to terms with it. Try to really

understand it. Give it a chance!

           Sometimes it helps if we try to visualize things.

           Try to visualize, for example, someone sneaking up behind

your back and hitting you over the head with a giant hammer.

           Some people prefer to think of death as a more spiritual

thing. Where the soul somehow separates itself from the mess

and goes on living forever somewhere else. Heaven and hell being

the most traditional choices.

           Death has a very black reputation but, actually, to die is a

perfectly normal thing to do.

           And it's so wholesome: being a very important part of

nature's big picture. Trees die, don't they? And flowers?

           I think it's always nice to know that you are not alone. Even

in death.

           Let's think about ants for a minute. Millions of ants die

every day, and do we care? No. And I'm sure that ants feel the

same way about us.

           But suppose—just suppose—that we didn't have to die.

That wouldn't be so great either. If a 90-year-old man can hardly

stand up, can you imagine what it would be like to be 500 years

old?

           Another comforting thought about death is that 80 years or

so after you die nobody who knew you will still be alive to miss

you.

           And after you're dead, you won't even know it.