View Full Version : Poem for a yachtsman's funeral

12-01-09, 11:44
My Uncle died recently. He was a great yachtsman and taught me a huge amount whilst sailing aboard his boat when I was a boy. I want to say a few words at his funeral and would like to find an appropriate poem.
Does anyone have any suggestions? <span style="color:blue"> </span>

12-01-09, 11:50
John Masefield


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

12-01-09, 12:06
I'd second Sea Fever, or there's "Parable of Immortality" by Henry Van Dyke

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,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
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 just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .
" Here she comes! "

12-01-09, 12:09
Thank you Kilter - Yes, I recall that one now - brought a tear to my eye....

12-01-09, 12:13
Not sea related, but appropriate for a funeral..

"I Have A Rendezvous With Death"

by Alan Seeger

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

12-01-09, 12:14
This was read at a friends funeral, most people found it very moving.

Safe Harbor
Written by Jennifer Hickok
The storm has been raging for so long now
Pouring rain, crashing thunder, howling wind
Beating down on this lonely ship
Searching for a place to call home

There was a time; it seems so long ago
The sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky
Looking up from the bow into forever
A gentle breeze, cotton candy clouds

But the storm slowly moved in
A few scattered showers and thunderstorms
Days of downpour, flashes of lightning
With shelter so hard to find

Rainbows still shone, beacons of hope
In the unlikeliest places
Vibrant against a backdrop of gray
A glimpse at the best of times

As the years passed by
The storms changed, getting worse
Getting better, and fading away
But they’d left their mark

A vessel is forever changed
When touched that way
And although you can rebuild
The damage has been done

Horrible storms had been forecast
For the not so distant future
But they wouldn’t hit this ship
Not again, no more damage would be done

The ship will be protected now
Lost no more, tossed about no longer
Safe in a harbor to forever call home

12-01-09, 12:27
How about Tennyson's Crossing the Bar which might be appropriate if he was a mariner and also someone who believed he would meet his maker....

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again for home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness or farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar

12-01-09, 12:30
Tennyson's Crossing the Bar

[/ QUOTE ]

I read this at my father's funeral - yachtsman and RN officer

Phoenix of Hamble
12-01-09, 12:38
As a life long fan of Masefield, i'd have to go with Kilter's suggestion, but 'parable of immortality' always brings a tear to my eye.... its a beautiful poem.

12-01-09, 12:40
I like this one too, although not overtly boaty

The West Wind

John Masefiled

It's a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries;
I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills,
And April's in the west wind, and daffodils.

It's a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine,
Apple orchards blossom there, and the air's like wine.
There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest,
And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.

"Will you not come home, brother? You have been long away.
It's April, and blossom time, and white is the spray;
And bright is the sun, brother, and warm is the rain,
Will you not come in, brother, home to us again?

Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat,
So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet?
I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,"
Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries.

It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread
To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
To the violets and the brown brooks and the thrushes' song,
In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.

12-01-09, 14:33
A lovely response - thank you all....

12-01-09, 15:47
Some time at eve,when the tide is low,
I shall slip my moorings and sail away,
With no response to a friendly hail,
In the silent hush of the twilight pale,
When the night stoops down to embrace the day
And the voices call in the water’s flow.

Some time at eve when the tide Is low,
I shall slip my moorings and sail away
Through the purple shadows that darkly trail
O’er the ebbing tide of the unknown sea,
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To mystic isles, where at anchor lay
The craft of those who have sailed before
O’er the unknown sea to the unknown shore.

A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay;
Some friendly barques that were anchored near,
Some loving souls that my heart held dear,
In silent sorrow will drop a tear;
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In mooring sheltered from storm and gale
And greeting the friends who have sailed before
O’er the unknown sea to the unknown shore.,

12-01-09, 15:49
I'd second that, I have heard it read at a couple of funerals - very moving.

12-01-09, 15:57
I was wrong, yours was the poem I was trying to remember, thanks for that.
Very moving, not a dry eye in the house.

12-01-09, 16:05
Not really a poem as such, but here's something that I'd like to leave to those that I leave behind -

<span style="color:blue">Weep not for me, I am free from pain,
My earthly troubles o'er,
I hope to meet you all again,
Upon a happier shore. </span>

12-01-09, 16:09
Thank you for reminding me of that one.
It is "The Unknown Shore" by Elizabeth Clark Hardy.

12-01-09, 16:40
I went to three different funerals between 03 and 05, and all had what jhr has provided as Parable of Immortality.

But beware, there is more than one version and by different writers. Bishop Trent is another that springs to mind.

This caused an embarrassing problem at my own mother's funeral, as she had already asked a friend to read it, and I had the funeral director print it in the Order of Service. Unfortunately they turned out to be different.

It's a great piece though, and I can't read it without at least one emotional tear in my eye.

12-01-09, 17:31
Thank you Tiercel. 'The Unknown Shore' would be my choice. I've tried reading it aloud but keep getting choked up on the last verse and can't finish it. Hopefully I'll pull through on the day....

Thank you all again for your suggestions

12-01-09, 17:54
thanks tiercel

I haven't come across this poem before- gulp-- its lovely.
Not sure I could ever read it aloud for anyone I know.... wiping a tear just reading it!

12-01-09, 18:03
Keep practicing ....don't rush and take plenty of deep breaths ...... many people find it easier than expected on the day.

Good luck.

12-01-09, 19:02
That is truly beautiful and so apposite I have copied it and shall request it for my own.

Thank you

Phoenix of Hamble
12-01-09, 19:05
Nothing wrong with struggling to read it on the day anyway. It only demonstrates how much the person to whom you refer meant to you.

12-01-09, 21:58
Beautiful, just beautiful.Thank you, I am in tears. That will be copied, but I don't think I could read it aloud. Moved beyond words.