Funeral Poems

Feb 21, 2010 | 0 comments

Journal WritingFuneral poems, also known as elegies, bring a dramatic level of oratory to a memorial service. The elegy began in ancient Greece as a sad song lamenting love and death.

Some funeral poems express sorrow and search for consolation, while others meditate on loss, grief, death, and mortality. These poems can take the oratory to a whole new level, but choose carefully, as some may not seem appropriate related to the person who has died.

Famous and powerful elegy poems include:

  • “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden (featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral)
  • To the Dead” by Frank Bidart
  • “Fugue of Death” by Paul Celan
  • Because I Could Not Stop For Death” by Emily Dickinson
  • “Dying Away” by William Meredith
  • “To an Athlete Dying Young” by A. E. Housman
  • “Death Stands Above Me” by Walter Savage Landor
  • “The Reaper and the Flowers” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • For the Union Dead” by Robert Lowell
  • “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • “Elegy for Jane” by Theodore Roethke
  • “November” by Edmund Spenser
  • “Question” by May Swenson
  • In Memoriam” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
  • A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London” by Dylan Thomas
  • “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman
A Good Goodbye