Tell all my mourners
To mourn in red –
Cause there ain’t no sense
In my bein’ dead.
(1902 – 1967)
From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you,
You are to die–let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you–there is no escape for you.
Softly I lay my right hand upon you, you ‘ust feel it,
I do not argue, I bend my head close and half envelop it,
I sit quietly by, I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself spiritual bodily, that is
eternal, you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.
The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions,
Strong thoughts fill you and confidence, you smile,
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines, you do not mind the weeping friends,
I am with you,
I exclude others from you, there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate, I congratulate you.
(1819 – 1892)
Over the dead line we have called to you
To come across with a word to us,
Some beaten whisper of what happens
Where you are over the dead line
Deaf to our calls and voiceless.
The flickering shadows have not answered
Nor your lips sent a signal
Whether love talks and roses grow
And the sun breaks at morning
Splattering the sea with crimson.
(1878 – 1967)
I should not dare to leave my friend,
Because — because if he should die
While I was gone, and I — too late –
Should reach the heart that wanted me;
If I should disappoint the eyes
That hunted, hunted so, to see,
And could not bear to shut until
They “noticed” me — they noticed me;
If I should stab the patient faith
So sure I ‘d come — so sure I ‘d come,
It listening, listening, went to sleep
Telling my tardy name, –
My heart would wish it broke before,
Since breaking then, since breaking then,
Were useless as next morning’s sun,
Where midnight frosts had lain!
(1830 – 1886)
The last night that she lived,
It was a common night,
Except the dying; this to us
Made nature different.
We noticed smallest things, –
Things overlooked before,
By this great light upon our minds
Italicized, as ‘t were.
That others could exist
While she must finish quite,
A jealousy for her arose
So nearly infinite.
We waited while she passed;
It was a narrow time,
Too jostled were our souls to speak,
At length the notice came.
She mentioned, and forgot;
Then lightly as a reed
Bent to the water, shivered scarce,
Consented, and was dead.
And we, we placed the hair,
And drew the head erect;
And then an awful leisure was,
Our faith to regulate.
(1830 – 1886)
Our journey had advanced;
Our feet were almost come
To that odd fork in Being’s road,
Eternity by term.
Our pace took sudden awe,
Our feet reluctant led.
Before were cities, but between,
The forest of the dead.
Retreat was out of hope, –
Behind, a sealed route,
Eternity’s white flag before,
And God at every gate.
with easy starts
are not the first
ones to our hearts
when the cold cadaver light of day
takes one of those we love away
After the funeral
- when the funeral was over
- After we had buried him
We walked across the grass
…We walked across the grass
leaving footprints in the dew
with him forever
And now, forever
looking back across the grass
The warmth of the day
losing us all, forever
THEY bear him to his resting-place—
In slow procession sweeping by;
I follow at a stranger’s space;
His kindred they, his sweetheart I.
Unchanged my gown of garish dye,
Though sable-sad is their attire;
But they stand round with griefless eye,
Whilst my regret consumes like fire!
Thomas Hardy, 1840–1928
The headlights on the
hearse stare straight ahead
like zombies’ eyes,
illuminating the way.
the opposite way pull over,
some passengers hushed,
Burdened with baby’s breath
gladioli sprays and black lace,
a funeral is solemn
before the journey
after the journey.