10 Most Comforting And Beautiful Poems About Death
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  • Post published:06/11/2021
  • Post last modified:06/11/2021

Poetry is all about sharing feelings and emotion and is one of the greatest forms of literature to read during hard times. Poems about death can help comfort you after losing a loved one.

We are driven to find release and comfort from other people’s stories about the same experience.

Whether you’re looking for comforting words for a funeral or memorial service or just need some help feeling a little less alone, these beautiful poems about death will help you during this difficult time.

1. “Nothing But Death” by Pablo Neruda

This poem by the great poet Pablo Neruda is all about the reality of death and how it makes us feel deep down inside ourselves.

Death is hard to understand and comprehend but we all know what it looks like and how we all can expect it at the end of our lives. 

“There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,

death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,

caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I’m not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.”

2. “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

One of Thomas’s greatest pieces of work, “Do not go gentle into that good night” is about advice after death. The narrator offers speaker advice to his or her father all about how to face death with dignity, bravery, and defiance.

It’s about consoling your elders about death and seeing that it’s not something they should be afraid of. 

“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.

Though 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.”

3. “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye

This poem is told as if the dead are talking to you, consoling you, and telling you that it’s okay. The dead asks you not to cry and weep at their grave but to look for them in the everyday things like the wind or the glistening sun on snow and the autumn rain. 

“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 glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.” 

4. “Turn Again To Life” by Mary Lee Hall

This is an inspirational poem about death that is all about embracing life and is perfect to read for a funeral service. It’s one of the funeral poems that was read at Princess Diana’s service. 

“If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone, who keep
long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake – turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
something to comfort weaker hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I, perchance may therein comfort you.”

5. “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” — Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the greatest poets who knew how to write beautiful poems and this one, in particular, is not different.

She writes that death is always at the end, we can’t run away from it but we can embrace it in the end and let it take us away towards eternity.

“Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
And Immortality.

We slowly drove- He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess- in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-

Or rather- He passed us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet- only Tulle-

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground-
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice- in the Ground-

Since then- ’tis Centuries- and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity-“

6. “Death” by Rabindranath Tagore

This poem is all about how death is a beautiful kind of sadness and how only one can hope to live a long and fulfilling life before death comes and takes them away forever. 

“O thou the last fulfilment of life,
Death, my death, come and whisper to me!

Day after day I have kept watch for thee;
for thee have I borne the joys and pangs of life.

All that I am, that I have, that I hope and all my love
have ever flowed towards thee in depth of secrecy.

One final glance from thine eyes

and my life will be ever thine own.

The flowers have been woven
and the garland is ready for the bridegroom.

After the wedding the bride shall leave her home
and meet her lord alone in the solitude of night.”

7. “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas writes about how there is no control over death. We have no dominion over death, it comes when it’s supposed to and sometimes when it’s not, and even at times where we think we will die we somehow escape it. 

“And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.”

8. “He is gone” by David Harkins

Harkins offers two methods of advice on how to move on after death and it’s a very comforting poem. 

“You can shed tears that he is gone

Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

9. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was known for his sad poems about death and this one, which was actually the last poem he wrote, is no different.

It explores the death of a woman named Annabel Lee and how their love is so strong even after death that angels are jealous. It’s all about how love can go on after death and nothing really ends with death, especially love. 

“It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above,
   Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea,
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.”

10. “If I Should Go” by Joyce Grenfell

This Joyce Grenfell is a great poem to read about death and how, if it must happen, we shouldn’t focus on all the sadness of it all. Instead, focus on the happiness and love that this person once gave you and remember that death is a natural and unavoidable process.

Life goes on, but don’t forget to sing the name of your loved ones and remember them fondly. 

“If I should die before the rest of you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell.
But life goes on,
So sing as well.”

Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers news & entertainment, love & relationships, and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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