After Great Pain

    Emily Dickinson

    After great pain, a formal feeling comes -
    The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs -
    The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
    And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

    The Feet, mechanical, go round -
    Of Ground, or Air, or Ought -
    A Wooden way
    Regardless grown,
    A Quartz contentment, like a stone -

    This is the Hour of Lead -
    Remembered, if outlived,
    As Freezing persons recollect the Snow -
    First - Chill - then Stupor - then the letting go -

    After the Burial

    James Russell Lowell

    Yes, faith is a goodly anchor;
    When skies are sweet as a psalm,
    At the bows it lolls so stalwart,
    In its bluff, broad-shouldered calm.

    And when over breakers to leeward
    The tattered surges are hurled,
    It may keep our head to the tempest,
    With its grip on the base of the world.

    But, after the shipwreck, tell me
    What help in its iron thews,
    Still true to the broken hawser,
    Deep down among seaweed and ooze?

    In the breaking gulfs of sorrow,
    When the helpless feet stretch out
    And find in the deeps of darkness
    No footing so solid as doubt,

    Then better one spar of Memory,
    One broken plank of the Past,
    That our human heart may cling to,
    Through hopeless of shore at last!

    To the spirit its splendid conjectures,
    To the flesh its sweet despair,
    Its tears o'ver the thin-worn locket
    With its anguish of deathless hair!

    Immortal? I feel it and know it.
    Who doubts it of such as she?
    But that is the pang's very secret, -
    Immortal away from me.

    There's a narrow ridge in the graveyard
    Would scarce stay a child in his race,
    But to me and my thought it is wider
    Than the star-sown vague of Space.

    Your logic, my friend, is perfect,
    Your morals most drearily true;
    But, since the earth clashed on her coffin,
    I keep hearing that, and not you.

    Console if you will, I can bear it;
    'Tis a well-meant alms of breath;
    But not all the preaching since Adam
    Has made Death older than Death.

    It is pagan; but wait till you feel it, -
    That jar of our earth, that dull shock
    When the ploughshare of deeper passion
    Tears down to our primitive rock.

    Communion in spirit! Forgive me,
    But I, who am earthly and weak,
    Would give all my incomes from dreamland
    For a touch of her hand on my cheek.

    That little shoe in the corner,
    So worn and wrinkled and brown,
    With its emptiness confutes you
    And argues your wisdom down.

    All Is Well

    Henry Scott Holland

    Death is nothing at all,
    I have only slipped away into the next room,
    I am I, and you are you,
    Whatever we were to each other, that we are still,
    Call me by my old familiar name,
    Speak to me in the same easy way which you always did,
    Put no difference into your tone;
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
    Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
    Let my name be the household word that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect, without the shadow of a ghost on it.
    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity,
    Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
    I am just waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
    All is well.

    A Song of Living

    Amelia Josephine Barr

    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
    I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
    I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.
    My cheek like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

    I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end.
    I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.
    I have known the peace of Heaven, the comfort of work done well.
    I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of Hell.
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

    I give a share of my soul to the world where my course is run.
    I know that another shall finish the task I must leave undone.
    I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.
    As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God.
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.


    William Shakespeare

    Fear no more the heat o' th' sun Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages. Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

    Fear no more the frown o' th' great; Thou art past the tyyrant's stroke. Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak. The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this and come to dust.

    Fear no more the lightning flash Nor th'all-dreaded thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou has finished joy and moan.

    All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee and come to dust.

    No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have, And renowned be thy grave!

    Death is Nothing at all

    Henry Scott Holland

    Death is Nothing at all
    Henry Scott Holland

    Death is nothing at all.
    It does not count.
    I have only slipped away into the next room.
    Nothing has happened.

    Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.

    Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.

    Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word it always was. Let it spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. It means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.

    There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

    I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.


    Max Ehrmann

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they to have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is, many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself.
    Especially do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Dirge without Music

    Edna St Vincent Millay

    I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
    So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
    Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
    With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

    Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
    Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
    A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
    A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.

    The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, -
    They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
    Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
    More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

    Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
    Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
    Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
    I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

    Do Not Be Afraid

    Mary Elizabeth Frye

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glint on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you wake in the morning hush,
    I am the swift, uplifting rush of quiet birds encircling flight.
    I am the soft starlight at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there - I do not sleep.

    Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

    Dylan Thomas

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Those wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Ecclesiastes 3 - A time for everything

    Chapter 3, Verses 1-8 (edited)

    To everything there is a season,
    and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    a time to be born and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break through, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to see, and a time to lose; a time to keep,
    and a time to cast away; a time to rend,
    and a time to sow; a time to keep silence,
    and a time to speak; a time to love,
    and a time to hate; a time for war,
    and a time for peace.

    Farewell My Friends

    Gitanjali Ghei

    It was beautiful as long as it lasted, the journey of my life, I have no regrets whatsoever, save the pain I'll leave behind.

    Those dear hearts who love and care, and the heavy with sleep ever moist eyes, the smile in spite of a lump in the throat and the strings pulling at the heart and soul,
    The strong arms that held me up when my own strength let me down, each morsel that I was fed with was full of love.

    At every turning of my life I came across good friends, friends who stood by me, even when the time raced me by.

    Farewell farewell my friends, I smile and bid you goodbye.
    No, shed no tears, for I need them not, all I need is your smile, If you feel sad, do think of me, for that's what I'll like, when you live in the hearts of those you love, remember then...... you never die.

    Flesh of My Flesh

    Barbara Boggs Sigmund

    Children of my children's children
    And beyond;
    The tragi-
    Of my flesh into decay,
    I yearn for you.

    I long for:
    Lush, languid babies
    laughing in the sunlight;
    Gawky, gap-toothed children,
    gambolling into life;
    Adolescents, sprouting breasts
    and beards,
    with equal mix of secret shame
    and pride;
    Lovers not quite willing to believe
    in your astounding luck;
    Newly-minted parents,
    wonder-filled and worshipful
    with awe.

    Not for me
    The all too certain maladies
    The sleepless nights,

    The screams of rage and pain,
    The heart-stopping
    I did that once and more,
    Paying just dues
    To Life
    For Her great gift to us.
    But for you who will be born
    When my flesh is almost finished,
    Or dissolved,
    I lust only for the joy.

    And if perchance
    One of you,
    Courteous, or curious, or both,
    Should visit at my cool,
    indifferent grave,
    It is my passion
    That you know
    That as I write to you:
    I fiddle with the texture of my hair
    And gaze upon a limpid grove
    Of trees
    And feel the after-glow of a
    warm and sunny day,

    Just as you do, my darlings,
    Just exactly

    I write to you, ghostly little loves,
    Present only in the loin and longings
    Of your ancestors,
    Not to lecture you
    That you are dust
    And unto dust you will return,
    (Though lectures I have heard)
    Nor to ask that you should theorize
    On spiritual and fleshly love,
    (Though theories I do know)
    Nor even to tell you that life is good,
    (For there are some of you
    who think that,
    And others who do not)
    But simply to let you know,
    (Though why I care I do not know)
    That just as real as is the drop of sweat
    Now running down my side,
    In whose existence you will scarce
    I was real once.
    I was very real.

    For Katrina's Sun Dial

    Henry Van Dyke

    Time is too slow for those who wait,
    Too swift for those who fear,
    Too long for those who grieve,
    Too short for those who rejoice,
    But for those who love, time is

    from A Grief Observed

    C.S Lewis

    An odd by-product of my loss is that I'm aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they'll say something about it or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don't. Some funk it altogether. R. has been avoiding me for a week. I like best the well-brought-up young men, almost boys, who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get over it, and bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.

    To some I'm worse than an embarrassment. I am death's head. Whenever I meet a happily married pair I can feel them both thinking. 'One or other of us must some day be as he is now.'

    from A Letter to a Friend on the Death of His Mother

    Phillips Brooks

    19 NOVEMBER 1891

    May I try to tell you again where your only comfort lies? It is not in forgetting the happy past. People bring us well-meant but miserable consolations when they tell us well-meant but miserable consolations when they tell us what time will do to help our grief. We do not want to lose our grief, because our grief is bound up with our love and we could not cease to mourn without being robbed of our affections.

    from A Letter to David Garnett - Placebos

    Sylvia Townsend Warner

    Don't think I am unhappy and alone... I am in a new country and she is the compass I travel by...

    I was grateful to you for your letter after Valentine's death, for you were the sole person who said that for pain and loneliness there is no cure. I suppose people have not the moral stamina to contemplate the idea of no cure, and to ease their uneasiness they trot out the most astonishing placebos. I was assured I would find consolation in writing, in gardening, in tortoises, in tapestry... in keeping bees, in social service... and many of these consolers were people whom I had previously found quite rational. Your only runner-up was Reynolds Stone's wife, who said whisky... But when one has had one's head cut off...

    From an Essay

    William Hazlitt

    No young man thinks he shall ever die. He may believe that others will, or assent to the doctrine that 'all men are mortal' as an abstract proposition, but he is far enough from bringing it home to himself individually.

    If, in a moment of idle speculation, we indulge in the close of life as a theory, it is amazing at what distance it seems; what a long, leisurely interval there is between. We eye the furthest verge of the horizon, and think what a way we shall have to look back upon, ere we arrive at our journey's end - and without our in the least suspecting it, the mists are at our feet, and the shadows of age encompass us.

    The two divisions of our life have melted into each other: the extreme points close and meet with none of that romantic interval stretching out between them that we had reckoned upon. The pains by their repeated blows have worn us out, and have left us neither spirit nor inclination to encounter them again in retrospect. We do not want to rip up old grievances, nor to renew our youth like a phoenix, nor to live our lives twice over. Once is enough. As the tree falls, so let it lie. Shut up the book and close the account for all!

    The most rational cure after all for the inordinate fear of death is to set a just value on life. If we merely wish to continue on the scene to indulge our headstrong humours and tormenting passions, we had better be gone at once; and it we only cherish a fondness for existence according to the good we derive from it, the pang we feel at parting with it will not be very severe!

    Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern - why, then, should it trouble us that a time will come when we cease to be? To die is only to be as we were before we were born; yet no one feels any remorse, or regret, or repugnance, in contemplating this last idea.

    It seems to have been a holiday-time with us then: we were not called to appear upon the stage of life, to wear robes or tatters, to laugh or cry, be hooted or applauded; we had lain snug all this while, out of harm's way; and had slept out our thousands of centuries without wanting to be waked up; at peace and free from care, wrapped in the softest and finest dust. And the worst that we dread is, after a short, fretful, feverish being, after vain hopes and idle fears, to sink to final repose again, and forget the troubled dream of life!

    from Antony and Cleopatra

    William Shakespeare


    O, wither'd is the garland of the war,
    The soldier's pole is fall'n: young boys and girls
    Are level now with men: the odds is gone,
    And there is nothing left remarkable
    Beneath the visiting moon.

    from In Memoriam

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Dark house, by which once more I stand
    Here in the unlovely street,
    Doors, where my heart was used to beat
    So quickly, waiting for a hand,

    A hand that can be clasp'd no more -
    Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
    And like a guilty thing I creep
    At earliest morning to the door.

    He is not here; but far away
    The noise of life begins again,
    And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
    On the bald streets breaks the blank day.

With Grace