12 Traditional Italian Poems for a Funeral or Memorial

Updated

When selecting a poem for a loved one’s memorial service, you need first to decide what you wish to say. For example, do you want to use a poem that describes the grief you feel due to the loss? On the other hand, perhaps you want to find a poem that celebrates your relationship with the deceased. Or, if the deceased were Italian, maybe you would like to use a poem that praises their home country.

Jump ahead to these sections:

We’ve tried to give you various Italian poetry examples to choose from in this post. 

Italian Funeral Poems for a Mother or Grandmother

There are a lot of Italian songs that praise a family’s matriarch. So, if you can’t find a poem that speaks to you, consider playing one of these songs instead. However, here are some other poems to consider for your mother’s or grandmother’s funeral. 

1. “Broken Is the High Column” by Francesco Petrarch

This poem is about grief that changes you forever. It reads, in part:

“You have taken my double treasure from me, Death, 
which made me live joyfully, and go nobly, 
and the earth cannot restore it, nor empire,
nor oriental gem, nor power of gold. 
But if destiny consents to this, 
what can I do, except display my sad soul,
wet eyes forever, and my bowed head? 
O this life of ours, which is so fair, outwardly,
how easily it loses in a morning 
what many years with great pain have acquired!”

2. “Rosalina, My Italian Mother” by Edmund V. Strolis

The speaker in this poem reminisces about his Italian mother, who always missed her homeland. It includes the lines:

“How you missed your Italian world. 
A Venetian maiden far from the village square.”

3. “A Mamma” by Salvatore di Giacomo

We love this beautiful tribute to motherhood written by Italian poet Salvatore di Giacomo. It reads:

“Who has got his Mother 
is rich and does not know;
who has her love 
Is happy and does not value it 

Because a mother’s love 
Is a wealth 
Is like the sea
that never ends.

Even the saddest and vilest man 
is still good if he loves his mother.
A mother gives you everything, 
seeks nothing from you. 

And if she sees you cry 
without knowing why, 
she hugs you and says, ‘O son!!!’ 
And cries with you.”

Italian Funeral Poems for a Father or Grandfather

Finding an Italian funeral poem for your father’s or grandfather’s funeral may be easier than you think. If your family’s patriarch loved poetry, look on their bookshelf to find passages that were often read. 

The funeral poem doesn’t have to be a poem about death. Instead, it can celebrate love, sunsets, or beautiful automobiles.

4. “L’infinito” by Giacomo Leopardi

Here’s another example of a funeral poem that doesn’t refer to death. Instead, this famous Italian poem is beloved for its simple style but deep meaning. This may have been a favorite of your Italian father or grandfather—which would make it a good choice for their funeral. 

It reads (in entirety):

“Always dear to me was this still hill,
And this hedge, which in so many ways
Of the last horizon the look excludes.
But sitting and aiming, endless
Spaces beyond that, and superhuman
Silences, and deepest quiet
I pretend in thinking; where for a while
The heart is not afraid. And like the wind
I hear rustling among these plants, I that
Infinite silence to this voice
I am comparing: and the eternal comes to my mind,
And the dead seasons, and the present
And alive, and the sound of her. So between this
Immensity drowns my thought:
And shipwreck is sweet to me in this sea.”

5. “Father, even if you weren’t my father” by Camillo Sbarbaro 

This poet uses specific incidents from their childhood to describe how his father was a wonderful man. For example, the poem begins:

“Father, even if you weren’t my
father, even if you were a stranger to me,
I’d love you just the same for who you are.
Because I remember a winter morning
when from your window you discovered
the first violet on the wall opposite
and you merrily told us the news.”

Italian Funeral Poems for a Sibling

To appease a multilingual audience, consider sharing the poem in the original Italian as well as the English translation. But, of course, be careful of the translation you use. Even though Google translate works for conversational Italian, you probably won’t be happy with the translation of famous Italian poems. 

6. "Alba” by Dario de Judicibus

Are you looking for a poem that celebrates the beauty of Italy? Alba is a town in Italy and is described by the poet Dario de Judicibus in this way:

“The sky is a watercolor
of pale pinks and stray blues
while the wind slips
amidst the muggy green
sparkling in the sun
to steal from air
a fresh smell of life
and bring it to my heart.”

7. “Autumn Song” by Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri is best known for writing The Divine Comedy. Here is another of his famous pieces about the end of life. 

It begins:

“Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?”

Italian Funeral Poems for a Child

What do you say to someone who has lost a child? How do you express your grief if you are the one experiencing the loss? 

You’ll struggle to find the right words for this situation. However, here is one especially poignant piece.  

8. “The Ancient Lament” by Giosue Carducci

This beautiful poem describes the grief that follows the death of a child. It was published in 1887. 

“The tree you used to reach 
your infant’s hand out to,
the verdant pomegranate
with pretty vermilion flowers,
in the mute solitary orchard
has now just turned green
for June is restoring it
with light and warmth.
You, blossom of my own
shaken and parched tree,
you, of my vain life
ultimate and only flower,
lay in the chilly ground,
lay in the black ground;
neither can the sun gladden you 
nor love awaken you again.”

Italian Funeral Poems for a Partner or Spouse

There’s not a shortage of Italian love poems. So, finding a poem that describes how much you loved the deceased should not be difficult. Here are a couple of options to consider using for a funeral poem for a partner or spouse. 

9. "To Silvia” by Giacomo Leopardi

This poem perhaps belongs under the category “Italian funeral poems for a child,” because the subject of this poem died young. 

The speaker is heartsick over the loss of young Silvia, as seen by this stanza:

“Attacked, and conquered, by secret disease,
you died, my tenderest one, and did not see
your years flower, or feel your heart moved,
by sweet praise of your black hair
your shy, loving looks.
No friends talked with you,
on holidays, about love.”

10. “Stay” by Gabriele D’Annunzio

Gabriele D’Annunzio was a famous personality in Italy, and apparently, this poem is well-known. The translation reads:

“Stay! Rest beside me.
Do not go.
I will watch you. I will protect you.
You’ll regret anything but coming to me, freely, proudly.
I love you. I do not have any thought that is not yours;
I have no desire in the blood that is not for you.
You know. I do not see in my life another companion. I see no other joy
Stay.
Rest. Do not be afraid of anything.
Sleep tonight on my heart…”

11. “Celestial Love” by Michaelangelo

You may not have known that Michaelangelo wrote over 300 poems, including this love poem that begins:

“No mortal thing enthralled these longing eyes
When perfect peace in thy fair face I found;
But far within, where all is holy ground,
My soul felt Love, her comrade of the skies:
For she was born with God in Paradise;
Nor all the shows of beauty shed around
This fair false world her wings to earth have bound:
Unto the Love of Loves aloft she flies.” 

Italian Funeral Poems for a Friend

If you were asked to write a eulogy for your friend, you might consider including the text of a poem. Here’s one to consider if the deceased always longed to return to the Italian village of their youth.

12. “Saturday Night in the Village” by Giacomo Leopardi

This poem has little to do with death or loss. However, it might be a perfect funeral poem for someone who grew up in a small Italian village. This poem paints a somewhat idyllic setting by describing:

“The girl comes from the fields,
at sunset,
carrying her sheaf of grass: in her fingers
a bunch of violets and roses:
she’s ready, as before,
to wreathe her hair and bodice,
for tomorrow’s holiday.”

Learn More About Italian Funeral Traditions

There are a lot of online resources that provide information about Italian funeral traditions. These might be helpful if you are planning a funeral for someone born in Italy without ever having the benefit of visiting the country yourself.

You might also want to search for Italian funeral homes in the closest urban area for assistance in planning an Italian funeral.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.