Monday, February 17, 2014

Grief Poems 1

I’ve been searching for grief poems that feel true to read at Noah’s one-year memorial. There is a lot out there to appeal to a range of tastes and feelings. Some grief-related web sites have made a point of collecting their favorites; I will start doing the same here. 

Here are two that speak to me, one from utter despair and one rising toward hope. I’d be grateful to know what grief poems you have found and treasured—please share!

 Funeral Blues by WH Auden

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 aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,

Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

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;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.


The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

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