It has been said that poetry is the language of the soul. In literature, poems often express deep sentiments that are difficult to explore and even harder to express. This is among the many reasons why poetry is so loved across cultures and traditions, and even more so after the creation of the written word.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Poems About Spirituality for a Funeral or Memorial
- Poems About Spirituality and Nature
- Poems About Spirituality and Death
- Poems About Spirituality and Love
Poems can so eloquently place into words our shared thoughts and feelings and can be ideal for reading at funerals, memorials, or when simply trying to process through your thoughts and feelings. If you want some poetry to help put life, love, death, and spirituality in proper perspective, read through some of these poems and see if they help reset your day.
Poems About Spirituality for a Funeral or Memorial
Many poems have been written about what happens to your spirit when you die. Those listed here are thought provoking, inspirational, and perfect for reading at a funeral or memorial of a loved one.
1. "I Will Not Die" by Dawana Markova
This poem speaks of risking failure and mistakes to know what it truly looks like to live. Markova starts by writing, “I will not die an unlived life” and concludes by saying, “I choose to risk my significance to live” so that life will have significance. Risking failure, learning from mistakes, and learning to truly live is what life is all about and this poem affirms those truths.
This is a perfect funeral poem that can serve as a reminder that, even though we might not be physically present, our memory and our legacy lives on.
2. "I Carry Your Heart" by e e cummings
This beautiful poem reflects on the idea that even when someone is physically absent, they are still present because we can carry them in our hearts. The author e e cummings begins his poem by saying, “I carry your heart with me, I am ever without it” and concludes with the same. He affirms that we are never truly without those we love if we carry their memories and their legacy with us.
3. "So is a Life" by Seneca
This is a very short poem that can be used as a recitation or a reading. Seneca was a Roman philosopher who wrote about many concepts relating to life and death. In this short treatise on life, he affirms that a person’s life is not so much about the length that is lived but about the quality and how it is lived. The sentiments in this short poem perfectly illuminate that it’s what a person does—not how long they’ve had on Earth—that matters.
4. "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To laugh often and love much” is how this poem or reading by Emerson begins. Throughout the following lines, Emerson gives us a beautiful mental picture of what life is, what it can be, and the true and spiritual meaning of success.
Many people may think of money, fame, and a large house as the measure of success. Emerson sums up what he has to say with the conclusion that “to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”
Poems About Spirituality and Nature
Poetry, spirituality, and nature often go hand-in-hand. These poems demonstrate how the beauty of nature inspires our souls and encourages us to be better people. You might even find some of these poems in spiritual books for beginners.
5. "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
This poem mixes spirituality, nature, and the nature of life into one beautiful reading. Frost talks about the need to choose between two different roads of life—one well-worn and the other less walked upon. He decided to take the “road not taken” and discovered that this path in nature directed the entire course of his life.
6. "Sail Away" by Rabindranath Tagore
In this poem, we read about a man sailing on an ocean. The ocean is described as a friend that will carry the author away from the toil and cares of his life. While this poem can be read and understood as a simple description of a sailor’s time on the water, it can also have a parallel meaning. In death, our selves are carried away as by the ocean’s tide and we are taken away from the toil and cares of this life.
7. "My Heart Leaps Up" by William Wordsworth
This beautifully simple poem speaks about the relationship each person has with nature. In the poem, the author talks about his heart leaping when he sees a rainbow. He goes on to declare that he always wishes to enjoy and admire nature’s beauty, otherwise he might as well be dead and gone. For this author admiring nature is key to understanding what it means to live.
8. "Peace" by Bessie Rayner Parkes
Many poets find incredible amounts of beauty and peace when they spend time in nature. This is certainly true for English author Bessie Parkes. In fact, she found nature so peaceful, she wrote about it in this poem where she declares that nature is almost the only place where peace is found since our lives are so chaotic and busy. If we are to find peace and rest, Parkes shares her conviction that we should seek it in nature.
Poems About Spirituality and Death
Many poems have been written about the link between our spiritual lives and death. Many religions and cultures all link the two together and even those who follow no distinct religion can find a certain spirituality about death. These poems discuss the dynamics of death and spirituality. You might hear one of these poems in popular movies about the afterlife.
9. "There Is No Night Without a Dawning" by Helen Steiner Rice
Many people believe that death is not the end of life but, rather, the beginning of a new life that goes on for all eternity. Rice was one such author who held the view that there was always good to be had amidst the bad we often experience. Her poem reflects this optimism with the final line concluding, “those who leave us for a while, have only gone away, out of a restless, careworn world, into a brighter day.
10. "Turn Again to Life" by Mary Lee Hall
Few things separate us from those we love besides distance, time, and death. When death removes loved ones from our lives, living without them can be incredibly difficult. Hall, however, suggests a way to stay close to our loved ones through her poem. She encourages her mourners to comfort others and finish the tasks she had left undone. In this way, she says that from beyond the grave, she will be able to comfort those who miss her.
11. "If I Should Go" by Joyce Grenfell
This short, concise poem speaks to what many of us think of having to part from our loved ones due to death. It is written from the perspective of the deceased and in it, the author both sympathizes with the mourners and encourages them when she says, “Weep if you must, parting is hell. But life goes on, so sing as well.”
12. "Death Be Not Proud" by John Donne
Though we often think of death as dreadful, scary, or something to be feared, revered English poet John Donne proclaimed that we shouldn’t view death as those things. Ultimately, though death may part us from loved ones, death can only kill once and to that person, death will die. Whether he believed in eternity or nothingness, Donne believed that death didn’t have the final say in a person’s life.
Poems About Spirituality and Love
Love is experienced on a universal level regardless of location, status, career, or wealth. Because of this, many have written about the interconnectedness of humanity and how we each should love one another. These poems speak to those truths.
13. "Develop the Heart" by Dalai Lama XIV
The Dalai Lama shares his thoughts on the importance of developing a lifestyle of love, humanity, and compassion in the words of his poem. He urges all people to “be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone.” In the end, he instructs the reader to “never give up” no matter what is happening but to develop the heart and let compassion and love be the order of the day.
14. "The Secret of Love" by Farid ud Din Attar
This deep dive into the meaning and secret behind spirituality and love is written by a Persian poet who lived during the 1100s. His poem begins by musing about the fact that everyone on earth seeks love and comes to the realization that, in love, there is community and life. In love, “no longer ‘thou’ and ‘I’ exist for self has passed away.”
15. "Love’s Philosophy" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
As another famous English Romantic poet, Shelley writes eloquently about the way nature demonstrates love and how everything in nature is dependent upon each other. He goes on to say that we should show the same tenderness, care, and love to those dearest to us.
16. "The Prayer" by St. Francis of Assisi
This poem describes the way each person should live if they want to bless loved ones, friends, and strangers. St. Francis of Assisi, a beloved saint in Catholicism, writes, “where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope.” And, in a central line of the poem, he asks that we all would love as we want to be loved.
Understanding the World
Poems such as these help us gain a deeper insight into spirituality and life. If we can hold to the truths contained in each poem, we’re sure to create a more loving, generous, and kinder world for ourselves and those who come after us.