Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

This morning at meditation, a beautiful poem was read from one of the Wisdom Crone cards.  I was disappointed to see that it was attributed to "author unknown" since I knew I had seen it attributed at some point.

The author is Mary Elizabeth Frye and the story about the poem is almost as good as the poem itself.  It was written in 1932 by a Baltimore woman who had not written poetry before.  Wikipedia tells this story:  

... the plight of a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with Frye and her husband, inspired the poem. Margaret Schwarzkopf had been concerned about her mother, who was ill in Germany, but she had been warned not to return home because of increasing anti-Semitic unrest. When her mother died, the heartbroken young woman told Frye that she never had the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”. Frye found herself composing a piece of verse on a brown paper shopping bag. Later she said that the words “just came to her” and expressed what she felt about life and death.[1]

Frye never published the poem but circulated it among friends and it drifted into popularity and was often read at funerals.  Abigail Van Buren finally established the authorship in 1998.   It looks like the copyright on the crone cards is 2004 so maybe they were developed before the authorship was widely known.

As my childhood hero, Paul Harvey, would say, "And, now you know the rest of the story."  Interesting to find out later in life just how conservative he was … but what a story teller … and voice!

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.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 


  1. I do love this poem -- it is so powerful -- and I love the story you shared.

    funny I should read this today as I just discovered that all the blogs I wrote on the site for the homeless shelter where I used to work were 'unauthored' by me and attributed to someone else. It felt like a violation -- until I spoke with the Comms person (who used to be on my team) and asked if they'd please re-attribute them to me. :)

  2. Joyce, this is beautiful and a piece I had never heard before... reading the story behind it gave me chills. This life feels too fleeting sometimes, but then when I think about how connected all of life is, it somehow makes it more okay. Thank you for sharing, hope things are well with you :)

  3. Caitlin ... thanks for your comment. Hope all is well and that your project is proceeding wonderfully.