Poems

1978

It’s my birthday today
and in my humble way,
I feel as if I’m reborn.
Even a hospital bed feels good
on this wonderfully happy morn.
For someone somewhere
with foresight and care,
Donated a kidney to me
So that I can live a full happy life,
And grateful forever I’ll be.
A whole new life has opened up
For me to live again.
A life that’s free from doubts and fears
anxieties and pain
So to my donor I want to say
wherever you may be
I hope you know the happiness
That you have brought to me.

Thank you.

This verse was received anonymously following a colour supplement
article on organ donation in February 1985.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

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.

Donation

I gave my eyes so that a small girl could see
the iridescent blue of a damsel fly’s wings.

I gave my heart to a boy too weak to stand,
who now runs and climbs the rocks above the tarn.

I gave my lungs so that another child could breathe
and fill them with the ocean’s salty wind.

I need no marble headstone, but in a sun warmed clearing,
plant curving bluebells and fluted daffodils

scented blues and vibrant singing yellows
to celebrate my short life each spring.

Donation (a poem for Alex)

I gave my eyes so that a small girl could see
the iridescent blue of a damsel fly’s wings.

I gave my heart to a boy too weak to stand,
who now runs and climbs the rocks above the tarn.

I gave my lungs so that another child could breathe
and fill them with the ocean’s salty wind.

I need no marble headstone, but in a sun warmed clearing,
plant curving bluebells and fluted daffodils

scented blues and vibrant singing yellows
to celebrate my short life each spring.

Eternal spirit

Eternal spirit, before whom generations rise and pass away,

we find that even in the face of death, our words can be those of thanksgiving.
We are thankful for one who shared his/her life with us…

One for whom love and family were so important….

whose life was lived with vigor.
For the struggles of life, and for the triumph of character over trial,

of courage over difficulty, of faith over sorrow, we give thanks.
God grant us such strength in the memory of our friend that we might be thankful for the gift of life that is given to each of us, and in our hearts, may the loss of _________ be balanced by thanksgiving for the life that was shared with us.

Amen.

Family o’ mine

I should like to send you a sunbeam, or the twinkle of some bright star,
or a tiny piece of the downy fleece that clings to a cloud afar.

I should like to send you the essence of a myriad sun-kissed flowers,
or the lilting song as it floats along, of a brook through fairy bowers.

I should like to send you the dew-drops that glisten at break of day,
and then at night the eerie light that mantles the Milky Way.
I should like to send you the power that nothing can overthrow –
the power to smile and laugh the while a-journeying through life you go.

But these are mere fanciful wishes; I’ll send you a Godspeed instead,
and I’ll clasp your hand – then you’ll understand all the things I have left unsaid.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W H Auden

 He is Gone

You can shed tears that he is gone, Or you can smile because he 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.

David Harkins 

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of; wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air;
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Fl. Officer John Gillespie McGee
1922-1941

I AM THERE

Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead.
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed.
Look for me when the trees are bare,
And the stars are bright in the frosty sky,
When the morning mist hangs on the air,
And shorter, darker days pass by.

I am there, where the river flows
And salmon leap in the silver Lune,
Where the insects hum and the tall grass grows,
And sunlight warms the afternoon,
I am there in the busy street,
I take your hand in the city square,
In the market place where the people meet,
In your quiet room – I am there.

I am the love you cannot see,
And all I ask is – look for me.
Iris Hesselden

I’ll Lend You A Child

I’ll lend you for a little time
A child of Mine.” He said.
“For you to love the while he lives
And mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven year
Or twenty-two or three
But will you, till I call him back
Take care of him for Me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
And should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want the child to learn.
I’ve looked this wide world over
In my search for teacher’s true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
I have selected you;
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labour vain
Nor hate Me when I come to call
And take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, They will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
For the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.

A Child Loaned
Anonymous

I’ll lend you for a little time
A child of Mine.” He said.
“For you to love the while he lives
And mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven year
Or twenty-two or three
But will you, till I call him back
Take care of him for Me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
And should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want the child to learn.
I’ve looked this wide world over
In my search for teacher’s true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
I have selected you;
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labour vain
Nor hate Me when I come to call
And take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, They will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
For the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.”

Litany of Remembrance

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.


Roland B. Gittelsohn
Gittelsohn, R. B. (1975). Gates of Prayer. London: Central Conference of American Rabbis and Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, p. 552

Life Goes On

If I should go before the rest of you Break not a flower Nor inscribe a stone Nor when I am 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 1910-1979

LIFE MUST GO ON

A Navaho Prayer
Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrow and the tears
Life is not over, but begins anew,
with courage you must greet the coming years.
To live forever in the past is wrong;
can only cause you misery and pain.
Dwell not on memories overlong,
with others you must share and care again.
Reach out and comfort those who comfort you;
recall the years, but only for a while.
Nurse not your loneliness; but live again.
Forget not. Remember with a smile.

Litany of Remembrance

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

Roland B. Gittelsohn
Gittelsohn, R. B. (1975). Gates of Prayer. London: Central Conference of American Rabbis and Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, p. 552

NT Readings

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.

If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way>” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

John 14: 1 – 6

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5: 1 – 4

They came to Jericho, and as Jesus was leaving with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Take pity on me!”

Many of the people scolded him and told him to be quiet.  But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, take pity on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Sol they called the blind man. Cheer up!” they said, “Get up, he is calling you.”

He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  “Teacher, “the blind man answered, “I want to see again.”

“Go,” Jesus told him, your faith has made you well.” At once he was able to see and followed Jesus on the road.

Mark 10:46-52

One Sweet Day

Sorry I never told you
All I wanted to say
And now it’s too late to hold you
‘Cause you’ve flown away
So far away

Never had I imagined
Living without your smile
Feeling and knowing you hear me
It keeps me alive
Alive

[Chorus:]
And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way
And I know eventually we’ll be together
One sweet day

Darling I never showed you
Assumed you’d always be there
I took your presence for granted
But I always cared
And I miss the love we shared

[Chorus]

Although the sun will never shine the same again
I’ll always look to a brighter day
Lord I know when I lay me down to sleep
You will always listen as I pray

[Chorus]

Sorry I never told you
All I wanted to say

Our child was born Waving

Our child was born Waving,
Waving hello,
Eyes like an angel,
Innocence glows,
Our Child was born Waving,
Waving to all,
Perfect creation,
Wonderfully formed,
We wanted to love you,
But love was denied,
Our child was born Waving,
Waving goodbye.

I ‘d like read from Psalm 139 v. 1-18. This Psalm is a mature psalm of David – not one of youthful fantasy, but one of experience and knowledge. In it we can see that God knows us from the moment we are conceived – and perhaps even earlier:

“MY FRAME WAS NOT HIDDEN FROM YOU WHEN I WAS MADE IN THE SECRET PLACE. WHEN I WAS WOVEN TOGETHER IN THE DEPTHS OF THE EARTH, YOUR EYES SAW MY UNFORMED BODY. ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK BEFORE ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE.”

The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of his name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.

Snowdrops

The snowdrops bloom – and yet I know,

That born of wind and rain,

These flowers – so like the driven snow

Are part of joy and pain.

For joy and pain have each a part,

Within our lives to play,

And smiles and tears come to the heart,

Most every passing day.

And, if perchance the pain should be,

Almost too much to bear,

May some sad heart, within my life,

Find snowdrops grow there.

Marilyn Buckley

SOMEHOW

As the gentle warmth of the Winter sun

struggles to break through cold and frost

I look around,

There is no-one

No-one anywhere to be seen

Yet somehow, I do not feel alone

Now somehow, I cannot feel alone

For now I think of you

I hope you think of me too

At last, the warmth of the sun

has broken through.

Somehow I’m not sure

it is the warmth of the sun

I really do think

it’s the warmth I feel

whenever I think of you.

Steve Ward

One Sweet Day

Sorry I never told you
All I wanted to say
And now it’s too late to hold you
‘Cause you’ve flown away
So far away

Never had I imagined
Living without your smile
Feeling and knowing you hear me
It keeps me alive
Alive

[Chorus:]
And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way
And I know eventually we’ll be together
One sweet day

Darling I never showed you
Assumed you’d always be there
I took your presence for granted
But I always cared
And I miss the love we shared

[Chorus]

Although the sun will never shine the same again
I’ll always look to a brighter day
Lord I know when I lay me down to sleep
You will always listen as I pray

[Chorus]

Sorry I never told you
All I wanted to say

The Broken Chain
We little knew that morning that
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly
In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
you did not go alone;
for part of us went with you,
the day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories,
your love is still our guide,
and though we cannot see you,
you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken
and nothing seems the same,
but as God calls us one by one,
the chain will link again.

The Gift

The hospital is warm and bright
And antiseptic in the light
Of neon-tubes, but in Ward 3
A son lies dying, tragically.
An accident, no one to blame
They say he could have felt no pain
The road was wet, the tyre worn
And nothing now to do but mourn.

His Mother in her grief and sorrow
Wonders how to face tomorrow.
All that is left to her is tears
And memories of twenty years.
She can remember – Oh! So well
A thousand things that she could tell
Of baby laughter, baby ways,
First faltering footsteps, carefree days.

A sturdy toddler dungareed
Smiling faced and gruddy kneed
First cap and tie and “grown-up” shoes
A schoolboy with no time to lose
As rushing by the childhood days
So precious in a million ways.
Examinations passed with ease
Piano practise, girls to tease.

Such joy of living, hundredfold,
(Did he guess he would not grow old?)
And now that life so new so young
So full of promise, just begun
Is finished, gone, forever past
By fate, or God, the die is cast.
The love has gone that once was hers.
And life for now is filled with tears.

But still in death a gift remains
Reliever of a hundred pains
For in a town not far away
Waiting and longing for the day
The ‘phone call’ giving hope to come
To David, our beloved son,
Who now waits tied to a machine
And dreams of life that once had been.

Of days of tennis, squash and fun
Swimming and the race to run.
His energy and will for trying
Slowly seeping, sapping, dying.
So Mother pause amidst your grief
My heart is thankful with relief
My prayer is answered, hand Divine
Your child will live again in mine.

The above poem was written by a mother whilst waiting some
time before her son received a kidney transplant.

THE GIFT

As I sit on the swing swaying to and fro,
All my feelings just come and go.
I have one hand held tight around the chain,
And I smile as I feel the cool September rain.

A little girl of six runs up to me,
I am pulled into her fantasy worlds where we can be free.
Free from worries, free from debt,
Free from troubles, free from regret

When suddenly a thought strikes me, that my little girl,
A few months ago would not be able to dance or whirl,
Would not be able to laugh or play,
Without another girl’s death she would not be here today.

I am shadowed by these thoughts and try to leave them behind,
But no matter what, they keep entering my mind.
How hard it must have been for that family to give,
From a little girl’s death, someone else can now live.

In the midst of their grief, mourning and sorrow,
They were unselfish enough to think of tomorrow,
That tomorrow was my daughter’s hope and dream,
Storm clouds made way for a bright sunbeam

So would it be too much of us to ask,
For you to carry out one little task;
Carry a Donor Card and play your part,
And one day someone could get a brand new start.

Laura Stewart (13)
Sale Grammer School

The Life That I Have

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Leo Marks

The string man and the giant

The giant lived on the farm. We called him that
with infant technicality because
his inches were more numerous than ours
could ever be or any other’s were:
the giant is what he went by. I watched
once from his shoulders, as the sinking sun
spun its last rays past radiance over hill
rows behind corn, the time he brought me home
from harvesting, my legs around his neck.
that was the night we came across the one
who hoarded string with something of content:
string was his toy, his game and most of all
his world, to be untied, retied and kept
with wonderment and care. The giant stopped
to ask the string collector how he was
and gave him an old piece of baler twine:
the giant and the string man never met
without exchanging word and gift, unique
men making certain of each other’s being.
that done, the giant carried on with me
thrilled to be safe in the onset of night,
secure and high behind his curly hair.
with childish trust we thought the giant
couldn’t die, and if he did, we never saw
his long box crawling past or heard the cries
the string man offered past or heard the cries
the string man offered in his anguish
to the sky. We never saw and never heard,
but missed him one day on the farm, as we
played marbles, sucking sherbet, after school.

Peter Wilson

To every thing there is a season 

To every thing 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 weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to get, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Vi,ii,iv,vi,vii,viii

What Matters

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those that loved you.
It’s not a matter of circumstance, but of choice
In the face of adversity you chose to live a life that matters.

WHEN TOMORROW STARTS WITHOUT ME

When tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not there to see.
If the sun should rise and find your eyes, all filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry, the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you.
And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.
She said my place was ready, in Heaven far above,
That I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away, a tear fell from my eye.
For all my life, I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.
I had so much to live for, so much yet to do.
It seemed almost impossible, that I was leaving you.

But when I fully realised, that this could never be,
For emptiness and memories, would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things, I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did, my heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through Heaven’s gates, I felt so much at home,
When God looked down and smiled at me, from his great golden throne,
He said, “This is Eternity, and all I’ve promised you.”
Today for life on earth is past, but here it starts anew.

So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right here, in your heart.