The words said at a funeral have a depth of meaning far beyond almost any others that we utter. How to sum up a life, pay tribute to a friend or loved one and provide everyone with an abiding memory of the departed? Poetry often offers the comfort and solace required on such sad occasions but it also provides us with a way of saying something meaningful about the person to whom tribute is being paid. The following books contain countless poems that will honour the memory of the deceased.
Do Not Go Gentle: poems for funerals, ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, (ISBN 9781852246358), Paperback, £6.99
Consummate anthologist Neil Astley has compiled a superb collection of classic verses of grief and consolation by, amongst others, John Donne, Christina Rossetti, Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson, as well as the poems read at Princess Diana's funeral. But there are also poems for people of all faiths and religions, for agnostics and atheists, and most importantly for those who are unsure what they believe.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, Unknown, Souvenir Press, (ISBN 9780285633353), Paperback, £4.99
Sensitively illustrated by Paul Saunders, this famous poem by an unknown author became well-known after being left to his loved ones by a soldier killed in Ulster. Its inspirational message of hope, comfort and renewal has since brought comfort to many who have lost loved ones.
Poems and Readings for Funerals, ed. Julia Watson, Penguin, (ISBN 9780141014968), Paperback, £8.99
The nature of the funeral has changed, making it important that there are sources from which to select the appropriate texts. Actress Julia Watson's inspiring and thoughtful selection includes 70 poems and prose extracts perfect for reading at a funeral, from authors ranging from Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Nation to Christina Rossetti.
Poems and Readings for Funerals and Memorials, ed. Luisa Moncada, New Holland, (ISBN 9781847734044), Paperback, £7.99
An indispensable collection of poems, readings, quotations and religious extracts that both celebrate life and express grief and sorrow about death. There are both well-known and less familiar selections - extracts from the New and Old Testaments, song lyrics, quotations from plays and extracts from books - from a diverse range of authors, including Nick Cave, W H Auden, Simon Armitage, A A Milne and Alice Walker.
Words to Comfort, Words to Heal: Poems and Meditations for Those Who Grieve, ed. Juliet Mabey, Oneworld, (ISBN 9781851681549), Hardback, £8.99
An inspirational and thoughtful anthology of passages from works of literature and the sacred scriptures of the world, especially chosen to encourage and support people who are grieving.
More in this series:
Poetry Books for... All Occasions
Poetry Books for... Weddings
Poetry Books for... Valentine's Day
Poetry Books for... Christmas
Poetry Books for... Lovers
Poetry Books for... Faithful Friends
Poetry Books for... Marvellous Mums
Poetry Books for... Doting Dads
Poetry Books for... Awesome Aunts
Poetry Books for... Favourite Uncles
Poetry Books for... Graceful Grannies
Poetry Books for... Grumpy Grandads
Poetry Books for... Boys
Poetry Books for... Girls
Poetry Books for... Tiny Terrors