'Do not stand at my grave and weep.'
Stanzas and lines of poetry have been dancing through my mind as of late. They tend to creep into my thoughts this time of year, with Memorial Day and the call of the bugle’s Taps around the corner.
Poppies will pop up on people’s lapels shortly, if not already. Flags and flowers have been placed in cemeteries in remembrance of those who are no longer with us.
Alas, it not this poem that has been waltzing in and out of my thoughts the past couple of weeks.
Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart, as I remember waking up on my day off from school or work to ride along with Dad to Oakville. It always seemed to be a day we spent together.
We would ride in his old blue GMC pickup to his hometown while listening to the likes of Kansas or Meatloaf. But the radio was always turned off before we began up the one-lane road to the cemetery atop the hill just southwest of Oakville.
Before we arrived Grandma had placed something on each family member’s stone and flags adorned many of the graves.
The notes of Taps would grace the air, “In Flanders Field” would be recited and a salute would take place.
I vividly remember those days of remembering.
Yes, recently one poem in particular seems to not want to lay to rest from my mind. It was written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932 and, according to online searches, was originally scribed on a paper bag. Many sources also list the poem as Frye’s first.
The poem is titled “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.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do no stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Memorial Day is not a holiday of grievance, but rather a time to remember, celebrate and honor those who are no longer with us, those who have given their lives for our country.