13 Traditional Polish Poems for a Funeral or Memorial Service

Updated

We have scoured the net looking for traditional Polish poems that would be suitable for a funeral or memorial service. Consider reaching out to the Polish community in the closest major city near you for additional assistance.

Jump ahead to these sections:

To find our selections for this piece, we turned to a volume called “Poets and Poetry of Poland” by Paul Soboleski.

Polish Funeral Poems for a Mother or Grandmother

As you say goodbye to your Polish mother or grandmother, you might be looking for a way to celebrate her heritage. Here are some poems written by Polish poets. 

You might also be interested in learning about Polish funeral traditions to help you plan an appropriate service for your loved one. 

1. “Merits of Poland” by Fabian Sebastian Klonowicz

Perhaps instead of searching for Polish funeral poems about mothers or grandmothers, you could use a poem that celebrates the country of the matriarch’s birth.

Consider “Merits of Poland” by Klonowicz. The first stanza reads:

“Poland is rich in green and fertile lands
That in God’s bosom, as it were, seem thrown
What cares the Pole for ocean or its strands?
Content, he ploughs his own.”

2. “A Fragment From His Elegy on Hedwige, Queen of Poland” by Louis Kropinski

This short verse reads:

“Too soon she drained the cup of bitterness,
Though her life’s op’ning days seemed born to bless;
And with a sadness sweet she bore each bitter grief,
Religion was her shield, pure conscience her relief.”

Polish Funeral Poems for a Father or Grandfather

Are you saying goodbye to your Polish father or grandfather? Here are poems by famous Polish poets. Remember, you don’t have to use a “death poem” at your loved one’s funeral. Instead, you might want to select a poem that celebrates the person’s faith or personal interests. 

3. “Religion” by Franicis Dyonisius Kniaznin

If faith was an important part of your father’s or grandfather’s life, consider “Religion” by Kniaznin. The middle stanza of this poem describes how happiness comes from faith.

“How happy on this earth the man may be
Whose eyes thy truth and glory can perceive;
A guard thou art for all that will believe,
A shield from sin for those that cling to thee.”

4. “The Poet’s Song” by Joseph Bohdan Zaleski

This poem celebrates the everlasting written language. The poet writes in the final two stanzas:

“And when I end life’s short career,
And bid this world a last adieu,
Another world again will cheer
The heart that seldom sorrow knew.

Although the body pass from hence,
The soul immortal shall not die;
A few remaining thoughts on earth
May tell I soared beyond the sky.”

Polish Funeral Poems for a Sibling

If you are planning a traditional Polish funeral, you certainly would be interested to learn more about Polish funeral songs. Additionally, here are some Polish poems written during the country’s literary renaissance.

5. “Castle of Oycow” by Francis Xavier Dmochowski

Francis Xavier Dmochowski was well-known during his time and was known for promoting “national advancement.” This poem, in particular, celebrates the beauty of his homeland – Poland.

The poem reads:

“Ye who have wandered thro’ each foreign land
Have marked the Seine and Tiber’s silver course,
And raise the eye to Alpine summits grand,
Sound ye not blush to seek for beauty’s source
In other countries than your own? Behold
Where scenes as beautiful arrest the eyes
In Oxcow’s groves and forests manifold—
Its river’s flow, its rocks that grandly rise!”

6. “Primrose” by Adam Mickiewicz

One of the stars of Polish poetry, Adam Mickiewicz wrote this homage to the primrose. One stanza reads:

“Like butterflies our moments are,
They pass, and death is all our gain;
One April hour is sweeter far
Than all December’s gloomy reign.”

Polish Funeral Poems for a Child

One poet sticks out from the rest when selecting a funeral poem for a child. John Kochanowski is known for writing a series of poetry after the death of his two-year-old daughter. The language is heart-wrenching. Even if you choose not to use the poem at the funeral, you may want to read it independently. 

7. "Thren I" by Jan Kochanowski

Jan Kochanowski is a well-known Polish poet who published in the late 1500s. He wrote a series of laments after the death of his young daughter Ursula. “Thren I” is the first of the 19 lamentations, which express the boundless grief of losing a child. 

The first of this series of poems tells the story of the tragedy and features a eulogy of his daughter.

It begins:

“Come gather ’round my dwelling, tears and sighs,
Eloquent woes, and loud-voiced miseries;
All tones of sorrow, anguish, and regret,
Hand-wringing grief, and pangs the cheeks that wet,—
Yes! Gather ’round my dwelling all, and join
Your plaint, your passion, with these plaints of mine,
O’er that sweet child whom most unholy death
Hath smitten and in one outrageous breath
Dispers’d all joy!”

8. "Thren IX" by Jan Kochanowski

We feature, again, the works of Kochanowski, who wrote about the death of his young daughter. This lamentation describes how there is no happiness left in his home following the death of his daughter.

It begins:

“My gentle child! And art thou vanished? Thou
Hast left a dreary blank of sadness now;
Our house though full is desolate and lone
Since thy gay spirit and its smiles are gone!”

9. "Thren XIII" by Jan Kochanowski

This poem describes the anguish of a “dark farewell.”

It includes the lines:

“Thou wert the brightest, fairest dream of sleep;
And as the miser cherishes his heap
Of gold, I held thee; soon ’twas fled and nought
Left but the dreary vacancies of thought,
That once was blessedness.”

Polish Funeral Poems for a Partner or Spouse

Saying goodbye to a spouse or a partner may leave you numb. So if you are searching for a funeral poem for your spouse’s funeral, you might start with selections that were important to you as a couple. Perhaps something your husband read to you at your wedding. Maybe you could use song lyrics that you both enjoyed.

If you are looking for poems from Poland, here are some to consider. The first celebrates the country of Poland, and the second is about the loss of a significant other. 

10. “From the Temple of the Sybil” by John Paul Woronicz

John Paul Woronicz was known for producing pieces that celebrate Poland. This piece was written in homage to the Temple of the Sybil, which was erected in the garden of Pulway in imitation of the Temple of Tiburtine Sybil found in Italy. The building holds Poland’s national treasures.

If you are looking for a funeral poem that honors Poland, consider this one. However, many of the references might be lost on modern audiences. 

Woronicz was also known for writing this verse:

“The Poles
Poles! My dear brethren your high laws are all the same—
Virtue is your element and valor is your name!”

11. “To M—” by Adam Mivkiewicz

It isn’t clear if a break-up or death causes the end of the relationship described in this poem. Regardless, this poem is about the memories left behind after a relationship ends. 

The poem ends:

“In every place—in all remembered ways
Where we have shared together bliss or dole—
Still will I haunt you through the lonely days
For there I left a portion of my soul.”

Polish Funeral Poems for a Friend

Finding the right type of poem for your friend’s funeral might be difficult. Think about their beliefs, personality, and experiences when selecting a piece. Funeral poems are also much more meaningful if it was a piece that the deceased enjoyed while alive. 

12. “Morning Hymn” by Francis Kaprinski

Kaprinski was called the “poet of the heart.” Although he trained as a lawyer, he left his work and traveled extensively. He died in 1825.

At first glance, “Morning Hymn” seems unsuited for a funeral. However, if your friend gave glory to God, regardless of circumstance, this might be an appropriate funeral poem for them.

The last stanza reads:

“Yesternight were many taken
To the sleep that ne’er shall wake,
While our ling’ring breath is given—
For Thy praise, great God in heaven!”

13. “Pray for Me” by Sigismund Krasinski

The speaker in this poem asks for prayers for a series of woes, including this one described in the last stanza:

“On earth without thee I am lost and lonely;
My thoughts are thine, I dream upon thee only;
Dream that in far eternities now hidden,
My soul with thine shall mingle unforbidden.”

Find a Poem That Speaks to You

This article celebrates poets born centuries ago, but there are (of course) modern Polish poets to consider. 

Search for a piece with an appropriate theme perhaps one that celebrates the relationship or one that showcases the faith of your loved one. Of course, you might also want to find a poem that celebrates your deceased loved one’s homeland – Poland.


Source:
  1. Soboleski, Paul. Poets and Poetry of Poland. Knight and Leonard Printers: Chicago, 1881. 

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