Poetry for Funerals
Like the curlews' twilight cries
curling over the silvered bay.
four deaths draw me
To lie in earth, a heavy sleeper
in an old bed, slowly melting
like late snow in shadow.
To drift on the flow of a river flooding
seaward, then to roll with tides
and thunder with the surf.
To burn with the fierce crackling
updraught of a fire of dry leaves
roaring into bright air.
Or to be scattered on the wind,
and sail the clouds
or ride the hurricanes.
Elementally we live:
solid and soft as earth, fluid as water,
light as air, bright as fire.
Even so we pass away:
wave to the waves, rain to the rains,
element to the elements we give.
As long as it is so -
whichever way - I won't be sad
when it's my time to die.
Just so the curlew's cry
echoes and fades in the moonlight
over the curving bay.
Epitaph for a child of earth
Traveller, do not hurry by,
but rest awhile on this white stone,
listen to the wind's words in the leaves
and cleanse your mind of fantasy.
There is no Tartarus and no Elysium,
no soul imprisoned in a cage of bone,
that will be freed and purified.
We who have died, we who were earth
have now returned to earth
and this is our bliss:
our atoms live commingled in this tree.
Inhale its scent, you will commune with us.
Our memory and our seed survive
in living minds and living births.
What better immortality?
Now go your way in peace.
[After an epitaph in Rome]
Text & photos by Paul Harrison ©: Paul Harrison 1997.
The Pantheist Way of Death.
- Support us
- WPM Statement of principles
- Elements of Pantheism book
- Pantheism beliefs, history, practise
- Pantheism, Atheism & other isms
- Members' voices
- Books on Pantheism
- Online Communities
- Local Groups
- Find Pantheists Near You [Members Only]
- Interest groups
- Start a group
- Unitarian Universalist groups
- About us