memories in words

Words – in particular poetry – help sooth loss and pain. They help us bring memories to the surface, to remember gently. Words, like music, are comforting.

You will find beautiful words in books – and (often misquoted) on the internet. Those who have written these words won’t be offended if you change the gender, perhaps change the meaning – take their words and fit them to your own circumstances.  There are so many poems, so many songs that will be your own or shared favourites.   

I share mine with you here, in no particular order, many I am sure you will recognise. I would be so pleased if you would share your own choices with this website. Remember always the words of Mich Albom:

Life has to end. Love doesn’t.    

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What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare                                William Henry Davies

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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 life 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 Harkin

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I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one. I’d like to leave an afterglow 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     Unknown


Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.            W.B. Yeats        

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Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
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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 crepe 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  

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I cannot say and I will not say
That she is dead, she is just away
With a cheery smile and a wave of hand
She has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
Its needs must be, since she lingers there
And you-oh you, who the wildest yearn
From the old time step and the glad return
Think of her faring on, as
In the love of there, as the love of here
Think of her still the same way, I say
She is not dead, she is just away.     . James Whitcomb Riley 

Remember me when I am gone away Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you’d plann’d; Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray.

And afterwards remember, do not grieve; For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.                Christina Georgina Rossetti

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
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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 the 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.        Mary Frye             

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