top of page


Allegory and symbolism in poetry allow connections to emotions and thoughts otherwise difficult to articulate, namely the complex feelings that are experienced when a loved one dies. Poetry's soothing rhythmic patterns, colorful sounds and evocative imagery can transform that which feels chaotic into patterns that are healing, organized and beautiful.

Poems are best used to set the tone at the beginning of a service, in lieu of prayers or as a meditative pause before or after a eulogy. The goal is that listeners are guided to a shared frame of mind.

Those who perform poetry readings should be individuals who feel both a personal connection to the deceased and to the words they are reading and who have a commanding and confident speaking voice.

The best poems are those whose themes speak to the aspirations and convictions of the deceased or that set a tone of healing and introspection for those who are grieving.

From "The Open Road" by Walt Whitman

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,

The picture alive, every part in its best light,

The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,

The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?

Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?

Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,

You express me better than I can express myself,

You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,

I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,

I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,

I think whoever I see must be happy.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,

Listening to others, considering well what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space,

The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,

I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,

I can repeat over to men and women

You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,

I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,

I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,

Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,

Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.


bottom of page