poems on death, no.1

my grandmother passed away last night. what better time to reflect on death. there is a small number of powerful poems that have really touched me, on the subject. here is one of them:

W. H. Auden
From Twelve Songs, [1933-1938]

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let the airplanes circle, mourning overhead,
Scribbling on the sky the message, He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows ’round the necks of the public doves;
Let traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my north, my south, my east and west;
My working week, my Sunday best;
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
I thought that love would last forever, … I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Put away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

other “good” death poems i have enjoyed over the years are “death shall have no dominion” by dylan thomas, and “do not go gentle into that good night” (also by thomas).

have you come across any interesting poems on the subject? what makes it difficult to write about death when really it is as much part of life as anything could be? have you written a poem about death, and if yes, what was your writing experience like?

i shall have to write a poem about my grandmother, there is something inside here that wants out, but it takes time.


About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

One comment

  1. Hello Annette, I've been enjoying reading through your site. I have always liked this poem by W H Auden. Another good one is "Do not stand at my grave and weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye (http://bit.ly/Iqi0f). It was read at my grandfather's funeral and is both sad and comforting. It always brings me to tears and makes us realise that those who are gone are never really gone as they always remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. On the death of my fiancé Corey's mother, I showed Corey this poem to comfort him and it inspired him to write his first ever poem based on his mother. It was very beautiful. Here is the poem (it's quite well known in the UK): Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow. I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain. I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush Of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the starshine of the night. I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room. I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. Do not stand at my grave bereft I am not there. I have not left. Keep up the good work! Sarah

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