Theme – Life Affirming

See my whole collection of poems and readings here: All poems and readings

Poems and readings sorted by themes

After Glow
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an after glow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
Attributed to Helen Lowrie Marshall

No sorrow to die
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.
Amelia Josephine Burr

Alternative verse 3:
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.
My life on this earth is over, and I come to my time of rest
Think of the ways that you knew me, and remember only my best.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
Based on a poem by Amelia Josephine Burr

Instructions
When I have moved beyond you in the adventure of life,
Gather in some pleasant place and there remember me
With spoken words, old and new.

Let a tear fall if you will, but let a smile come quickly
For I have loved the laughter of life.

Do not linger too long with your solemnities.
Go eat and talk, and when you can;
Follow a woodland trail, climb a high mountain,
Walk along the wild seashore,
Chew the thoughts of some book
Which challenges your soul.

Use your hands some bright day
To make a thing of beauty
Or to lift someone’s heavy load.

Though you mention not my name,
Though no thought of me crosses your mind,
I shall be with you,
For these have been the realities of my life for me.

And when you face some crisis with anguish.
When you walk alone with courage,
When you choose your path of right,
I shall be very close to you.

I have followed the valleys,
I have climbed the heights of life.
Arnold Crompton

I would rather be ashes than dust

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
Jack London

A Reflection on an Autumn Day
I took up a handful of grain and let it slip flowing through my fingers, and I said to myself,
This is what it is all about. There is no longer any room for pretence. At harvest time the essence is revealed – the straw and chaff are set aside, they have done their job. The grain alone matters – sacks of pure gold.
So it is when a person dies the essence of that person is revealed. At the moment of death a person’s character stands out happy for the person who has forged it well over the years. Then it will not be the great achievement that will matter, nor, how much money or possessions a person has amassed. These, like the straw and the chaff, will be left behind. It is what he has made of himself that will matter. Death can take away from us what we have, but it cannot rob us of who we are.

He has achieved success
He has achieved success who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much:
who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
who has filled the niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it;
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others
and given the best he had.
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.
Bessie A Stanley

All men have stars
All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems …  But all these stars are silent. You, you alone will have stars as no one else has them … In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night .. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me … You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure, it will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,  “The Little Prince”

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 in circling 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 stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!)

 

If I should die and leave you
Be not like the others, quick undone
Who keep long vigils by the silent
dust and weep.

For my sake turn to life and smile
Nerving thy heart and trembling
hand to comfort weaker souls than thee.
Complete these unfinished tasks of mine
And I perchance may therein comfort thee.
Thomas Gray (1716 – 1771)

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.
Joyce Grenfell

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:

Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;

And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember
And haply may forget.
Christina Rossetti

Farewell My Friends
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 strings pulling at the heart and soul…
The strong arms that held me up
When my own strength let me down.

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.
Rabindranath Tagore

When Death Knocks
On the day when death will knock at thy door,
What wilt thou offer to him ?
I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life.
I will never let him go with empty hands.
All the sweet vintage of all my autumn days
And summer nights,
All the earnings and gleanings of my busy life
Will I place before him, at the close of my day.
Rabindranath Tagore

A brief candle; both ends burning
An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
A friend to share the lonesome times
A handshake and a sip of wine
So say it loud and let it ring
We are all a part of everything
The future, present and the past
Fly on proud bird
You’re free at last.
Charlie Daniels

Days
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
Philip Larkin

All Is Well
Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped 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 easy way which you always used
Put no difference in 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 that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner. All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

She is Gone
You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love 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 her and only that she’s gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

He is Gone
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’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
or you can be full of the love 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’s 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’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
Based on a poem by David Harkins.
Used at the funeral of the Queen Mother – attributed then as anonymous.

It is a short journey from birth until death.
Seek to enjoy the journey as much as you can.
Savour the scenery and the people you meet enroute, for it is all there is.

On Death

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

Look to this day for it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities
And truths of existence;
The joy of growth,
The splendour of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every
Yesterday a memory of happiness.
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Kalidasa, famous Sanskrit poet.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer –
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North
The birth place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains high cover’d with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farwell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, whereever I go.

Robert Burns

All Souls
When I am old
And a bushfire of booze veins crackles across a face
With a nose like a squeezed teabag,
I shall consort
With similarly time-mugged parties
And we shall play
Elizabeth Schumann singing Schubert’s
‘Litany for the Feast of All Souls’
Because it is beautiful
And there’s nothing to say.

And because it is beautiful
And there’s nothing to say,
We shall lean towards each other and murmur
An antique catchphrase
In a knowing way:
“Elizabeth Schumann singing Schubert’s
Litany for the Feast of All Souls
Rules, OK?”
“OK”
“OK.”

Kit Wright