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Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Poem to be Read Upon Scattering My Ashes.

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 glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

Mary Frye (1932)

James: I have long ago decided to have my body cremated when I die so that my ashes can be scattered into the soil, the air, the water and into a fire as a final act of giving before being reborn anew. I have always found cemeteries to be odd places--not scary necessarily but just strange in that we section off parts of towns where we collect dead bodies dressed in sumptuous clothing lying in a fancy box.

Even in death we try to cling the body and status by demanding the most ornate coffin, headstone, mausoleum and even dressed in our finest suit or dress as if we are off to a ritzy party. It is somewhat humorous that we try and keep the body preserved in coffins to keep the elements from decomposing it when those elements already exist in those very bodies and have since our birth!!! They are apart of who we are--we can not escape that. We wouldn't exist without those elements.

~Peace to all beings~

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Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful poem. Yes, you have a point there.

They call him James Ure said...


Indeed. It is so simple yet so profound and seems so Buddhist with the descriptions of being within the snow, the rain--everything.

Abe said...

That was really wonderful. Thank you.

anonyrod said...

Nice poem. Yes, some societies have a preoccupation with stiffs. In parts of Asia people often keep the body in their house for a whole year before burning it, usually in a glass-sided box so that they can watch it decay. They realize that the person they loved and had so much attachment to is not what remains and decays. I have also seen sun-dried ones, which tend to flatten out. Where I live cremation is the norm, and you end up with what looks like to be a box of prawn crackers.

z said...

I've always liked that poem and the sentiment it expresses.

I too planned a cremation, but I discovered an alternative that pleases me more:

Uku said...

Beautiful poem, thank you!

L.B. said...

I've loved that poem a long time. I'll have that one said at my funeral for sure.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.

Kamacharya said...

Good post James.

Even though I don't believe that my consciousness will be reborn, I know that the atoms that form this body of mine will be reincarnated into other beings.

Even now I am not alone as my body is home to millions of microbes. I'm a colony; an organism made of many organisms.

"We are all part of the same compost heap" - Fight Club

Greenwoman said...

Beautiful James and of course it suits you perfectly. *smiles*

Anonymous said...

hey james, i think that's a really nice poem. my grandmother committed suicide when my mother was a teenager and she was cremated. my mother has always told me that she's happy her mother is cremated because she senses her mother in the wind, in the sky, around her all the time instead of decomposing in the cold earth. i feel like i sense my grandmother's spirit too even though i never had the chance to know her personally.

anonyrod said...

In India, the Jains still have sky burials, basically crow and vulture smorgasbords, and they are usually open spaces atop of large towers in the main cities.

Garnet said...

"Everyone dies, but no one is dead."

Great poem

Robin said...

Death is such a predictable thing and yet we are still ataching our emotions to it..

Sentient beings... sigh

PeterAtLarge said...

A lovely poem, indeed, James. I note the date: it's older even than I am!

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah preoccupation with a lifeless corpse is kind of weird.


Very cool, thanks for sharing.


I love that quote and it's so true that our atoms are constantly shifting and switching around.


because she senses her mother in the wind, in the sky, around her all the time instead of decomposing in the cold earth.

I like it. That's how I want to be remembered too.


Sky burial is cool too.

Jody said...

A beautiful poem indeed. Eleanor Daley, a Canadian composer, set it to music, and it is one of the most sublime pieces I have ever heard.

blue fire said...

I have long ago decided to give away my body part to anyone who can get use of them and cremate the rest when my mind is long gone...
such a nice poem!

Inner Oddness said...

I posted this on my blog too, around th beginning of December. I love this poem

They call him James Ure said...


I love music set to words. So wonderful.

Blue Fire:

I like that idea. Donate to science and then have the rest torched.

Inner Oddness:

It's a great poem. It really sums up my views on death and how it's actually quite beautiful. As well as how we live on in the dirt, the air, the wind and in fires. In addition to living on in plant material and therefore animals who eat them. I love that idea.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Am scattering my mother's ashes tomorrow, and this is the perfect reading.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about the ecological impacts of cremation vs. natural decomposition (would my smoke contribute to global warming?). I LOVE the idea of sky burial, and only hope something like that or feeding to the wolves is possible for my corpse.

They call him James Ure said...

@Anonymous...I would like to know the ecological footprint of cremation as well. I'm very supportive of sky burials, as well.

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