Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Death revisited

Thursday evening, October 2, my Auntie Ven died. She's really my 1st cousin once removed but to me she was always Auntie Ven. She's already been cremated and will be interred on Monday. She lived along the past few years...having outlived her 3rd and last husband. Being very old, and alone, and not really good at caring for herself or figuring out she needed help, she had a difficult time without even knowing it...so that might be for the best.

I have always been reminded that Auntie Ven would lull me to sleep as an infant by singing me a dirty Polish song. I believe she's the one who introduced my mom and dad to each other. Ven was rather unconventional as a young woman, as an old woman, too, for that matter. She did not fit the prim and proper British gentlewoman she was born to be, supposedly. She had a huge wild streak in her.

Years ago she asked me to read a poem at her funeral. I have kept that poem in my one dresser drawer. Same place. All this time. But do you think it's there now? So much for moving. But I am sure it's somewhere. And I have until Monday to find it to be sure that what I remember of it is what she wrote. But for now, this is what I remembered:

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 sun 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.

5 comments:

Lin said...

there's lots about this poem on wikipedia. just google the first line and see what comes it. it's amazing. See below:

An early version, printed by others on postcards:
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.

Her later confirmed version:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the 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 not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

mom/caryn said...

I'm thinking I would have loved your Auntie Ven. There is always something very appealing to me about a little wild streak in a woman. And I truly believe that there is so much of us that is left behind when we lay this mortal down. Little pieces of us that are reflected everywhere we touched.

Do you h ave some of your Auntie Ven's spirit as well? Yes? I bet you do!

Karen Ahlstrom said...

I was gona post the wikipedia link, but I guess somebody beat me to it. It's a lovely poem. It may end up on my blog one of these days -- though I hope I don't have occasion to use it for a long while.
-Karen

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Dirty Polish lullabies...now we know where you get your wicked streak!

Do you mind if I use part of your entry in our newsletter this month?

kimlis said...

I saw some of the signs, too; apparently a few days before all the flags. Thanks for telling the story.

good poem, by the way

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