10 Of The Most Beautiful Poems On Life And Death

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge sucker for poetry…

And over the years, I’ve set aside quite a few poems and kept them in a secret folder in my desk at work. Today I want to share a few of my favorites with you that cover the most complex topics of all: life and death.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite poems on life, death, and everything else in between:

#1: Because I could not stop for Death

By Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –  
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –  
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –  
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –  
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

#2: Death Is Nothing At All

By Harry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that 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 an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round 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!


#3: Wild Geese

By Mary Oliver

#4: For Katrina’s sun dial

By Henry Van Dyke

Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is

#5: High flight

John Gillespie Magee Jr

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. Ho’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through the footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or 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.


#6: Turn again to life

By Mary Lee Hall

If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone,
who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand
to do something to comfort other hearts than mine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I perchance may therein comfort you.

#7: “Death Poem”

By Alysia Harris

#8: A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)

By John Keats

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.


#9: The Laughing Heart

By Charles Bukowski


#10: The Guest House

By Jelaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

How can you use these poems?

Did you have a favorite poem that you’d like to share with your families? With Life Tributes Personalization Software, you can add your own library of poems that can be incorporated into tribute videos, bookmarks, prayer cards, registry books and more. To get a 30-day free trial of Life Tributes, click here or give us a call at 800-798-2575, ext. 5 today!

Share with us your favorite death poem in the comments below!

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  1. Andrea Horn

    On your page about the ten favorite poems. There is a picture in sequences, a tree and children, a tree and teenagers, a tree and young adults, a tree and older couple, a tree with one person and grave, a tree with two graves. Where can I find this picture to buy?

    Also I loved the poems

  2. funeralOne Blog » Blog Archive A Word On Putting The “Service” In Funeral Service – funeralOne Blog

    […] a handwritten letter thanking them for choosing your funeral home, and attaching a copy of an inspiring poem you found that reminded you of […]

  3. Glenda Findley

    Dirge Without Music
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

    I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
    So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
    Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
    With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

    Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
    Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
    A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
    A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

    The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
    They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
    Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
    More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the

    Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
    Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
    Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
    I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

  4. Qwerty

    Hello Andrea Horn:

    I searched for this image, and found it for you:
    It is called “Happy Together”.

    If you were to left click the image, a tab would pop up, reading, “find image on Google”.

    It is also available on favim.com.
    Type into the search bar: “Always, boy, forever, girl, happy, kisses, love, together.”

  5. Gary Colón

    No one knows the sure and set
    For we know not, the why or yet
    Be lost and found, but not unbound
    Because for ever will be my bet…

  6. Sherryl

    Emily Dickerson’s Because I could not stop for Death is number one but I Have a Rendezvous with Death by Alan Seeger, 1888 – 1916 should have been on the list too.

  7. Go Keyboard Download

    I Like for the article. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. michael grover

    Hi from America. Nice website and lots of informative content.

  9. Mindvalley

    I learn new information from your blog, you are doing a great job. Keep it up.

  10. Diamond

    I like the poem “I couldn’t stop for death

  11. Rilee Chastain

    Good one, we love that one too!

  12. Billy Jones Jr

    Dylan Thomas wrote this but its great

    Do not go gentle into that good night
    Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  13. Krystal Penrose

    Beautiful poem, thanks for sharing, Billy!

  14. Brad Massey


  15. Vivien Cowley

    I read out High Flight at my beloved Mum’s funeral in 2016. She loved that verse. I’m crying now.

  16. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks for sharing, Vivien!

  17. rupesh pandit

    It’s really heart touching

  18. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks so much, glad you felt touched by it!

  19. Michael Grover

    Some nice poems there. A good poem can certainly make a difference at a service.

  20. Krystal Penrose

    We agree Michael!

  21. shagman


  22. Krystal Penrose


  23. Michael Grover

    The ten poems are well selected. Good to see that you havent selected some funeral poems that are the most popular. There are lots of little gems of poems out there if people just dig a liitle deeper

  24. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks Michael! We appreciate your comment. We tried our best to find ones that are inspiring and not your average cookie cutter poem 🙂

  25. Dreama

    Has anyone heard a poem referring to death like a sweep (a football play)–others you know going before you. A pastor used it in a Memorial Service. He heard it as a young man years ago and does not know the author or the poem.

  26. David Irvine

    This is a fantastic collection of poems. I write many death poems myself, I think it’s something that should be looked at in great depth. My favourite here has to be ‘The Guest House By Jelaluddin Rumi’ A very powerful poem that can be related to many different life paths. Great work….

  27. Krystal Penrose

    That poem is one of my top favorites! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  28. Krystal Penrose

    We aren’t sure about this poem but hopefully someone will see this and know 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  29. XxUknownxX

    Wow time flys by when you want to die i lean my head onto her shoulder an cry not gonna lie if i die you probably would not cry but i would be fine with that.

  30. Young Proff

    Love this poem
    It has been my sources of inspiration for writing mine at least you can still get more here http://www.livelihood.com.ng

  31. Kossyderick

    I really really appreciate this write up,
    More knowledge writer


  32. amapiano 2021

    this is nice

  33. English poem

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  34. Claudia

    A personal favourite:

    ‘I Am Standing Upon the Seashore’

    I am standing upon the seashore. 
    A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. 

    She is an object of beauty and strength. 
    I stand and watch her until at length
    she hangs like a speck of white cloud
    just where the sea and cloud come 
    to mingle with each other. 

    Then someone at my side says;
    “There, she is gone!”
    “Gone where?”
    Gone from my sight. That is all. 
    She is just as large in mast and hull
    and spar as she was when she left my side
    and she is just as able to bear her 
    load of living freight to her destined port. 
    Her diminished size is in me, not in her. 

    And just at the moment when someone
    at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
    There are other eyes watching her coming,
    and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; 
    “Here she comes!”
    And that is dying. 

    Henry Van Dyke

  35. OZoFe.Com

    Poems about life and death are very interesting and profound, I have saved them for reference, I also have a poetry blog here: https://ozofe.com/ you can support me .

  36. Vincent Stadlin

    I am a composer and presently am writing a Song Cycle about the end of life.
    If possible may set #2 “Death Is Nothing At All” Harry Scott- Holland and #4 “For Katrina’s Sun Dial” Henry Van Dyke to music. They will be given full credit.

    Please may I know, thank you. Vincent Stadlin

  37. Jane Kauffman

    I am searching for a poem about an old person dying and a baby being born and they have a conversation when they they meet, the one coming and the other one going. The old man tells the baby about life on earth etc. Can anyone help me?

  38. murtazagrn

    . Black Friday is a major event day in the United States that has recently spread to the United Kingdom. This is usually the day after Thanksgiving, and it is when shops and businesses offer incredible offers and discounts on home and garden supplies. Unfortunately, the Black Friday shopping frenzy may lead to some fairly heated situations.

  39. Ellion

    Like this poem

  40. Angel


  41. Rosie alim

    Pagawa Naman po life and death spenserian sonnet.

  42. Carl Gutierrez

    thanks for sharing these poems!

  43. Nirbhya Singh

    I have never read poems like these on death and life. Good ones and give a new perspective.One day we all gonna die as we are living!

  44. Krystal Penrose

    Glad you enjoyed them and they inspired you!

  45. Leonard

    Nice poetry