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Funeral Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  2. Death is a dialogue between by Emily Dickinson
  3. The Clock of Life by Robert H Smith
  4. To Daffodils by Robert Herrick
  5. The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins
  6. The Last Rose of Summer by The Last Rose of Summer
  7. Death Be Not Proud by John Donne
  8. The Chariot by Emily Dickinson
  9. Death is a Fisherman by Ben Franklin
  10. Drowning is not so pitiful by Emily Dickinson
  1. Let down the bars, O Death! by Emily Dickinson
  2. The Unseen by Sara Teasdale
  3. Death by Emily Dickinson
  4. Precedence by Emily Dickinson
  5. Funeral Dirge by Hannah Flagg Gould
  6. A Parting Guest by James Whitcomb Riley
  7. Goodnight by AE Housman
  8. Give me my scallop-shell of quiet by Sir Walter Raleigh
  9. Blindman's Buff by Anonymous
  10. The Pale Horse by James W. Whilt
  11. Those Willing Hands by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  12. Hope in God by Psalm 42: 1-3, 5, 8
  13. A Peal of Bells by Christina Rossetti
  14. A Wish by Frances Anne Kemble
  15. The Reapers and the Flowers by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

metaphors and other literary devices describing death

  1. Crossing the Bar

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea,

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    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.

  2. Death is a dialogue between

    by Emily Dickinson

    Death is a dialogue between
    The spirit and the dust.
    "Dissolve," says Death. The Spirit, "Sir,
    I have another trust."

    Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
    The Spirit turns away,
    Just laying off, for evidence,
    An overcoat of clay.

  3. The Clock of Life

    by Robert H Smith

    The clock of life is wound but once
    And no man has the power
    To tell just when the hands will stop
    At late or early hour.

    To lose one's wealth is sad indeed
    To lose one's health is more,
    To lose one's soul is such a loss
    That no man can restore.

    The present is our own,
    So live love, toil with a will
    Place no faith in "tomorrow,"
    For the clock may then be still.

  4. To Daffodils

    by Robert Herrick

    Fair daffodils, we weep to see
    You haste away so soon;
    As yet the early-rising sun
    Has not attain'd his noon.
    Stay, stay
    Until the hasting day
    Has run
    But to the evensong;
    And having pray'd together, we
    Will go with you along.

    We have short time to stay, as you,
    We have as short a spring;
    As quick a growth to meet decay,
    As you, or anything.
    We die
    As your hours do, and dry
    Like to the summer's rain;
    Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
    Ne'er to be found again.

  5. The Gate of the Year

    by Minnie Louise Haskins

    And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
    And he replied:
    “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
    So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

    So heart be still:
    What need our little life
    Our human life to know,
    If God hath comprehension?
    In all the dizzy strife
    Of things both high and low,
    God hideth His intention.

    God knows. His will
    Is best. The stretch of years
    Which wind ahead, so dim
    To our imperfect vision,
    Are clear to God. Our fears
    Are premature; In Him,
    All time hath full provision.

    Then rest: until
    God moves to lift the veil
    From our impatient eyes,
    When, as the sweeter features
    Of Life’s stern face we hail,
    Fair beyond all surmise
    God’s thought around His creatures
    Our mind shall fill.

  6. The Last Rose of Summer

    by Thomas Moore

    ’Tis the last rose of summer
    Left blooming alone;
    All her lovely companions
    Are faded and gone;
    No flower of her kindred,
    No rosebud is nigh,
    To reflect back her blushes,
    To give sigh for sigh.

    I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
    To pine on the stem;
    Since the lovely are sleeping,
    Go, sleep thou with them.
    Thus kindly I scatter
    Thy leaves o’er the bed,
    Where thy mates of the garden
    Lie scentless and dead.

    So soon may I follow,
    When friendships decay,
    And from Love’s shining circle
    The gems drop away.
    When true hearts lie withered
    And fond ones are flown,
    Oh! who would inhabit
    This bleak world alone?

  7. Death Be Not Proud

    by John Donne

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
    For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
    Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
    Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
    And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
    And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
    One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

  8. The Chariot

    by Emily Dickinson

    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 played,
    Their lessons scarcely done;
    We passed the fields of gazing grain,
    We passed the setting sun.

    We paused before a house that seemed
    A swelling of the ground;
    The roof was scarcely visible,
    The cornice but a mound.

    Since then 't is centuries; but each
    Feels shorter than the day
    I first surmised the horses' heads
    Were toward eternity.

  9. Death is a Fisherman

    by Ben Franklin.

    Death is a fisherman, the world we see
    His fish-pond is, and we the fishes be;
    His net some general sickness; howe'er he
    Is not so kind as other fishers be;
    For if they take one of the smaller fry,
    They throw him in again, he shall not die:
    But death is sure to kill all he can get,
    And all is fish with him that comes to net.

  10. Drowning is not so pitiful

    by Emily Dickinson

    Drowning is not so pitiful
    As the attempt to rise.
    Three times, 't is said, a sinking man
    Comes up to face the skies,
    And then declines forever
    To that abhorred abode
    Where hope and he part company, —
    For he is grasped of God.
    The Maker's cordial visage,
    However good to see,
    Is shunned, we must admit it,
    Like an adversity.

  11. Let down the bars, O Death!

    by Emily Dickinson

    Let down the bars, O Death!
    The tired flocks come in
    Whose bleating ceases to repeat,
    Whose wandering is done.

    Thine is the stillest night,
    Thine the securest fold;
    Too near thou art for seeking thee,
    Too tender to be told.

  12. The Unseen

    by Sara Teasdale

    Death went up the hall
    Unseen by every one,
    Trailing twilight robes
    Past the nurse and the nun.

    He paused at every door
    And listened to the breath
    Of those who did not know
    How near they were to Death.

    Death went up the hall
    Unseen by nurse and nun;
    He passed by many a door—
    But he entered one.

  13. Death

    by Emily Dickinson

    Death is like the insect
    Menacing the tree,
    Competent to kill it,
    But decoyed may be.

    Bait it with the balsam,
    Seek it with the knife,
    Baffle, if it cost you
    Everything in life.

    Then, if it have burrowed
    Out of reach of skill,
    Ring the tree and leave it, —
    'T is the vermin's will.

  14. Precedence

    by Emily Dickinson

    Wait till the majesty of Death
    Invests so mean a brow!
    Almost a powdered footman
    Might dare to touch it now!

    Wait till in everlasting robes
    This democrat is dressed,
    Then prate about "preferment"
    And "station" and the rest!

    Around this quiet courtier
    Obsequious angels wait!
    Full royal is his retinue,
    Full purple is his state!

    A lord might dare to lift the hat
    To such a modest clay,
    Since that my Lord, "the Lord of lords"
    Receives unblushingly!

  15. Funeral Dirge

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Lift not, lift not the shadowy pall
    From the beauteous form it veileth;
    Nor ask, as the offerings of sorrow fall,
    Who it is that the mourner waileth!

    We could not look on a face so dear,
    With the burial gloom surrounding,
    A name so cherished we must not hear,
    While her funeral knell is sounding!

    But seek with the throng of the young and fair
    Their loveliest still to number;—
    You will find her not! for 't is her we bear
    In the mansion of death to slumber!

    She shone to our sight like a gladdening ray
    Of light, that awhile was given
    To brighten the earth, and has passed away,
    Undimmed, to its source in heaven!

  16. A Parting Guest

    by James Whitcomb Riley

    What delightful guests are they
    Life and Love!
    Lingering I turn away,
    This late hour, yet glad enough
    They have not witheld from me
    Their high hospitality.
    So with face lit with delight
    And all gratitude, I stay
    Yet to press their hands and say,
    "Thanks. So fine a time! Goodnight."

  17. Goodnight

    by AE Housman

    Goodnight; ensured release,
    Imperishable peace,
    Have these for yours,
    While sea abides, and land,
    And earth's foundations stand,
    and heaven endures.

    When earth's foundations flee,
    nor sky nor land nor sea
    At all is found
    Content you, let them burn:
    It is not your concern;
    Sleep on, sleep sound.

  18. Give me my scallop-shell of quiet

    by Sir Walter Raleigh

    Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
    My staff of faith to walk upon,
    My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
    My gown of glory, hope's true gage;
    And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

  19. Blindman's Buff

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Day after day, day after day,
    At awkward blindman's buff we play,
    Our silly eyes
    Self-hidden from the longed-for prize.
    Death takes the handkerchief away.

  20. The Pale Horse

    by James W. Whilt

    When I saddle the pale horse, to take my last ride,
    To the home ranch, over the Great Divide,
    Will I find the trail blazed all the way,
    A place to camp, at the close of day?

    Will the trail be smooth, and the weather fair?
    (For no one has ever come back from there)
    But the good book says, if we shoot square,
    "Have no fear of the trails over there!"

    An unseen hand guides the pale horse straight,
    O'er the summit height, to the home ranch gate,
    Where we all must meet the Boss Supreme,
    And all will be one pleasant dream.

    No herding of dogies on frost night,
    Or wild stampede in the morning's light.
    No cinching of saddles, or shipping of steers.
    No sorrow or trouble or bitter tears.

    But the sun will shine, and cool breezes blow,
    Over a range ever free from snow;
    And for those who lived as He who died
    To save us riders—that Great Divide

    Will be only a foothill, so very low;
    That on its summit sweet flowers do grow,
    And the trail itself will be smooth all the way,
    With a place to camp at the close of day.

    When at last I reach that Home Ranch gate,
    Peter will say, "You sure shot straight,"
    And the gate will open for me, I know,
    Saying, "Pull off your saddle, and let him go!"

  21. Those Willing Hands

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    Those willing hands—they’re still to-night—
    The life has from them fled;
    They’re folded from the longing sight,
    So cold and pale and dead.
    The busy veins have idle grown,
    Like a long famished rill,
    That once in such an eager tone
    Called soft from hill to hill.

    Dear hands, I’ve felt their pressure oft,
    In a sad time gone by;
    They moved about the years as soft
    As clouds move through the sky.
    They screened the rainstorm from my heart,
    And let the moonlight in,
    And showed, while shadows fell athwart,
    Tracks where the sun had been.

    They were such willing, willing hands,
    They stilled the mournful tear,
    Unwound the pattern of God’s plans,
    And made his problems clear.
    They did not reach to high-grown bowers,
    Where rarest blossoms bloom;
    But culled the blessed, purer flowers,
    And bore them to the tomb.

    Poor hands—they are so still and white,
    The rose that shared their rest
    Is shrinking from the long, dark night,
    And falling on her breast.
    The wreath is wilted on the mound
    Where long the sunshine stands,
    But angels have the sleeper found,
    And clasped those willing hands.

  22. Hope in God

    by David. See Psalm 42: 1-3, 5, 8

    As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

    When can I go and meet with God?
    My tears have been my food day and night,
    while men say to me all day long,
    "Where is your God?"

    Why are you downcast, O my soul?
    Why so distured within me?
    Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

    By day Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me —
    a prayer to the God of my life.

  23. A Peal of Bells

    by Christina Rossetti

    Strike the bells wantonly,
    Tinkle tinkle well;
    Bring me wine, bring me flowers,
    Ring the silver bell.
    All my lamps burn scented oil,
    Hung on laden orange-trees,
    Whose shadowed foliage is the foil
    To golden lamps and oranges.
    Heap my golden plates with fruit,
    Golden fruit, fresh-plucked and ripe;
    Strike the bells and breathe the pipe;
    Shut out showers from summer hours;
    Silence that complaining lute;
    Shut out thinking, shut out pain,
    From hours that cannot come again.

    Strike the bells solemnly,
    Ding dong deep:
    My friend is passing to his bed,
    Fast asleep;
    There's plaited linen round his head,
    While foremost go his feet,—
    His feet that cannot carry him.
    My feast's a show, my lights are dim;
    Be still, your music is not sweet,—
    There is no music more for him:
    His lights are out, his feast is done;
    His bowl that sparkled to the brim
    Is drained, is broken, cannot hold;
    My blood is chill, his blood is cold;
    His death is full, and mine begun.

  24. A Wish

    by Frances Anne Kemble

    Let me not die for ever! when I'm gone
    To the cold earth; but let my memory
    Live like the gorgeous western light that shone
    Over the clouds where sank day's majesty.
    Let me not be forgotten! though the grave
    Has clasped its hideous arms around my brow.
    Let me not be forgotten! though the wave
    Of time's dark current rolls above me now.
    Yet not in tears remembered be my name;
    Weep over those ye loved; for me, for me,
    Give me the wreath of glory, and let fame
    Over my tomb spread immortality!

  25. The Reaper and the Flowers

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
    And, with his sickle keen,
    He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
    And the flowers that grow between.

    "Shall I have naught that is fair?" saith he;
    "Have naught but the bearded grain?
    Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
    I will give them all back again."

    He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
    He kissed their drooping leaves;
    It was for the Lord of Paradise
    He bound them in his sheaves.

    "My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,"
    The Reaper said, and smiled;
    "Dear tokens of the earth are they,
    Where He was once a child.

    "They shall all bloom in fields of light,
    Transplanted by my care,
    And saints, upon their garments white,
    These sacred blossoms wear."

    And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
    The flowers she most did love;
    She knew she should find them all again
    In the fields of light above.

    Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
    The Reaper came that day;
    'T was an angel visited the green earth,
    And took the flowers away.

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