15+ Poems for a Memorial Balloon or Lantern Release

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Lantern and balloon release memorials are common for outdoor memorial ceremonies. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of the balloons and lanterns, eco-friendly bubbles and alternative luminaries made from rice paper offer inexpensive alternatives.

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Balloon release memorials aren’t just for loved ones’ funerals. Many people use these as opportunities to shed emotional burdens, giving their search for clarity a physical representation. In the poems below, we’ve listed balloon release poems or those suitable for many kinds of other release ceremonies.

Uplifting Memorial Balloon Release Poems

Read these poems as a balloon or lantern drifts up into the wind.

1. "Hope” by Langston Hughes

Hughes’ poem isn’t exactly overflowing with an uplifting message. However, it shows that even in the darker moments of life, a twinkle can exist somewhere inside.

2. "Thinking" by Walter D. Wintle

Poet Walter Wintle touches on the same doubt and despair that holds a person back. A person’s way of thinking is their biggest hurdle, he writes. Once you realize that having a positive attitude can change your future, that’s when it’s time to release the balloon.

3. "Goodbye" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson’s poem embraces the idea of death as all the worries and troubles of this place won’t be around when he’s in paradise. No man here will meet God as he can there.

4. "Peace of the Wild Things" by Wendell Berry

Take Berry’s poem with you to a place you love the most. When you’re there, his words will shine a light on everything you love so that when you release the balloons, you’ll find peace.

5. "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You may want to release balloons after a long battle with hardship and pain. Here, the poet assures that death isn’t what we’re working toward — it’s the life we’re living for.

6. "Once the World Was Perfect" by Joy Harjo

Harjo’s poem isn’t instantly gratifying. As a reader, she expects that you connect with the path of yesterday to understand where life and light can begin today.

7. "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou

Finding one’s self-worth is reason enough for a memorial ceremony to one’s past. It’s in that sweet spot of recognizing the value that you’ll appreciate the road that gave you the person you are today.

8. "Inspiration" by Sherod Santos

Sherod Santos’ poem is atypical of the traditional uplifting poem. His poetry is like a permission slip to do what others warn against while giving you the power to find joy in the obscure.

9. "Hymn to Life" by James Schuyler

Schuyler’s poem works all year round and in almost any situation because it's overflowing with several verses from which to pluck the perfect lines. Or read the whole poem and pause to smile on the memories they inspire.

10. "Little Things" by Nancy Flowers

“Little Things” will work for a child’s memorial. The poem describes the strength of the small bird in all of its birdness, even when the sky is dark and grey. 

Memorial Balloon Release Poems About Grief

Below is a short selection of poems with a cross-selection of themes and ideas. Some are intended for a specific loved one, while others are ambiguous and open to interpretation.  

11. "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou

Open to interpretation, Angelou’s poem is about being trapped in one’s grief or circumstance. It’ll work for someone who’s still trying to manage pain, whether it’s through loss or another situation.

12. "A Dream Lies Dead" by Dorothy Parker

Parker’s embrace of life and death in “A Dream Lies Dead” brings you to a gravesite. Through her poem, you’re able to grasp the common but natural fate that all things have a place in life and a separate time for death. 

13. "Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines)" by Pablo Neruda, translation by W.S. Merwin

Pablo Neruda, of Chilean descent, is one of the most famous poets of all time. Neruda became a politician and diplomat and eventually earned the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. 

14. "Remember" by Christina Rossetti

The poet asks to be remembered, even though her lover can no longer hear, touch, or see her. But, if that remembering the grief remains forceful, she’d rather they forget than be sad at all.

15. "Little Father" by Li-Young Lee

Spreading your father’s ashes is like losing a piece of yourself to the wind. But Lee’s poem offers some bittersweet hope to cradle your grief.

16. "Beau" by Jimmy Stewart

You may want to read this poem a few times before the balloon-releasing ceremony. As honest and straightforward as it reads, we’ve all known well a love so sweet from a dog like Beau.

17. "Making a Fist" by Naomi Shihab Nye

Nye’s poem asks you to see life and the journeys and recognize what it takes to live through them and grow because of them.

18. "And Thou Art Dead, Young and Fair" by Lord Byron

Byron is one of the most famous poets from early 19th century England. In just 36 years of living, his work, including “Epitaph to a Dog,” has been taught on college campuses worldwide.

19. "Ebb" by Edna Vincent St. Millay

Of the poems in this selection, Millay’s is perhaps the most mournful and sad. In just seven lines, she’s able to invoke imagery that is tangible to any grief-stricken heart.

20. "The Dying Child" by John Clare

Clare’s poem compares the youthfulness of a child with that of springtime. There’s too much of life teeming, so much to explore and hold with wonder, making winter the cruelest season.

Tip: Create a unique, one-of-a-kind urn with Foreverence to honor your loved one's passions and interests. 

Spiritual or Religious Poems for a Balloon Release Memorial

Religion or spirituality seem to go hand-in-hand as many poems can seem like short songs of expression for those beliefs. Read on for one that is suitable to your convictions.

21. "The Truth the Dead Know" by Anne Sexton

Until Sexton’s poem, there has been little anger inside the poems selected. Here, you’ll find a daughter just coming from her parent's funeral wholly upset at all things under the sky. 

22. "Untitled Shaman Song" by Uvavnuk, translated by Jane Hirshfield

This short poem may detail the work of Mother Earth, but it’s how her work affects the poet that brings him true joy.

23. "A.M. Fog" by Mark Jarman

The fog had a purpose and life that was once enjoyed, used, and contemplated. But being released from the “A.M. Fog” is similar to that of a spiritual unveiling.  

24. "Open the Gates" by anonymous, translated by Israel Zangwill

When strange life events prevent people from attending Shiva or burial, it’s still possible to create meaningful ceremonies wherever you are. 

25. "Send Your Spirit" by Solomon Ibn Gabirol, translated by Peter Cole

Gabirol’s short but poignant poem speaks to the return of the holy spirit to save the people and the land. It’ll work as a memorial poem for those whose faith lies in salvation.

26. "On a Branch" by Kobayashi Issa, translated by Jane Hirshfield

Kobayashi’s poem will work for a ceremony wherein you’re also spreading ashes in the wild. Take a look:

“On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.”

27. "Dream of the Rood" once attributed to Cynewulf

Reading the entire poem takes about 20 minutes. However, many themes or images are suitable for a ceremony.

28. "A Reminiscence" by Richard O. Moore

“A Reminiscence” is suitable for polytheistic or pagan rites and ceremonies that occur in autumn. It’ll connect the sadness of the day with life’s abundance in nature.

29. "Final Autumn" by Annie Finch

Finch’s poem is a fitting funeral poem for polytheistic religions like Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, or other tribal religions. 

30. "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Frye’s spiritual poem embraces death as a pathway where you’ll now see your loved one in all things wonderful — that life lives on.

Finding Release Through Ceremony

A balloon or lantern release ceremony offers an opportunity to manifest grief outside of oneself. They can look at it, give it a different meaning, and then watch as it, in turn, establishes its own journey outside of you.

Whether you wish to honor your loved one through memorial jewelry like a memorial diamond from Eterneva, or you'd rather stick with a traditional urn, there are so many ways to honor those you love. A balloon release ceremony is a simple yet powerful form of legacy. 


Sources 

  1. Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). www.poetryfoundation.org/ 
  2. Publish your poetry online. (n.d.). allpoetry.com/ 

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