16 Robert Frost Poems for a Funeral or Memorial Service

Updated

There aren't many Robert Frost poems that would be listed as the best funeral poems. After all, the most popular funeral poems typically direct people to "remember the happy times" or to imagine their loved ones in Heaven. Frost's most famous pieces do not have those themes. 

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Instead, some of Frost's poetry tends to offer life lessons from the perspective of a New England farmer/poet. Many others use nature to analyze human existence. Some of his pieces would work nicely for a person's funeral – they just aren't typically used. 

Here are some of Frost's most popular pieces. 

Robert Frost Poems for Dad’s or Grandpa's Funeral

The poetry of Robert Frost might be the perfect choice for your dad's or grandpa's funerals – especially if they were known for enjoying the outdoors. Of course, you might consider using a favorite Frost poem that your loved one enjoyed during life. 

Here are some funeral poems for dads

1. "The Pasture"

Frost often used this short piece as an introduction to his collections. The poem reads (in its entirety):

"I'm going out to clean the pasture spring; 
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away 
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha' n't be gone long.—You come too. 

I'm going out to fetch the little calf 
That's standing by the mother. It's so young, 
It totters when she licks it with her tongue. 
I sha' n't be gone long.—You come too."

2. "Mending Wall"

Perhaps this poem speaks to your dad's philosophy of life – that "good fences make good neighbors." This long poem describes two neighbors meeting each spring to repair the stone wall that divides their properties. 

3. "The Road Not Taken"

This is, perhaps, Robert Frost's most famous poem. It's typically used at graduations. However, it might be a good choice for a loved one's funeral.

It begins:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same."

4. "An Old Man's Winter Night"

We included this on the list because of the title. However, we aren't sure if this poem would provide much solace to people grieving the loss of an older man. 

The poem is about the solitary life of an old, forgetful man who at once battles and enjoys the darkness of winter.

5. "The Line Gang"

Not every profession has a poem that describes what they do. However, "the line gang" describes the work of those who strung lines for the telephone or telegraph. 

If your family member did this work, you might consider it for their funeral poem.

6. "The Birthplace"

The speaker in this poem visits his birthplace and reflects how nature has wiped away all traces of his early existence.

It begins:

"Here further up the mountain slope
Than there was ever any hope,
My father built, enclosed a spring,
Strung chains of wall round everything,
Subdued the growth of earth to grass,
And brought our various lives to pass."

Robert Frost Poems for Mom’s or Grandma's Funeral

When one thinks of Robert Frost's most famous poems, women don't jump to mind. However, some pieces might be appropriate for your mom's or grandma's funeral.

You might consider other funeral poems for mom if these don't seem appropriate to you. 

7. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening" 

The speaker in this poem stops to watch the snowfall in the woods from the back of a horse-drawn carriage. 

The last stanza states:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

8. "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

If you are looking for a poem about the fleeting nature of life, consider using "Nothing Gold Can Stay." This is not necessarily a typical funeral poem – however, it is about the seasons of life. 

Here's the poem in its entirety:

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

9. "After Apple-Picking"

Anyone who has endured a hard day of labor might appreciate this poem. It describes apple picking and the exhaustion that follows.

Again, it is not a typical funeral poem and ends in a somewhat confusing manner. 

Robert Frost Poems for a Sibling's Funeral

While some think of Frost as a "nature poet," he included many people in his poetry, and the poems he wrote about the natural world almost always contained metaphors to describe human existence. 

Here are two poems that use nature to describe the stages of life. 

10. "Leaves Compared With Flowers"

Youth and age are some of the subjects tackled with this poem. 

It includes the stanza:

"Some giant trees have bloom so small
They might as well have none at all.
Late in life I have come on fern.
Now lichens are due to have their turn."

11. "The Oven Bird"

You can look online and in literary journals to find an analysis of "The Oven Bird." For example, some critics say that there is something significant in that the bird "knows in singing not to sing" over time.

Robert Frost Poems for a Partner or Spouse's Funeral

The Frost poems that online sources list as "romantic" aren't the typical heartfelt poems that one would expect of the genre. Here are a couple that might work for a partner's funeral.

12. "The Investment"

This poem tells the story of an old man who digs potatoes on a cold evening – thinking about the number of meals each mound will provide. Then, he hears piano music coming from a neighbor's house. 

"All that piano and new paint back there,
Was it some money suddenly come into?
Or some extravagance young love had been to?
Or old love on an impulse not to care—
Not to sink under being man and wife,
But get some color and music out of life."

If your loved one lived life to the fullest – even during old age – perhaps this would be a good choice for their funeral. 

13. "Flower Gathering"

The speaker in this poem goes on a solitary walk. Even though he leaves his spouse behind, he brings flowers for her when he returns.

The poem ends:

"All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I've been long away."

Robert Frost Poems for a Friend's Funeral

Was your friend a poetry lover? Perhaps you could use one of these selections for their funeral. 

14. "On Looking up by Chance at the Constellations" 

This poem begins:

"You'll wait a long, long time for anything much
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves.
The sun and moon get crossed, but they never touch,
Nor strike out fire from each other nor crash out loud."

It seems to say that we can always turn to the heavens for peace – since it indeed can't be found on earth.

15. "Good Hours"

It seems as if the poet got a lot of ideas while ambling about the countryside. This poem describes the "good hours" spent taking a solitary walk. However, there is a price he pays for his quiet time. He looks through lit windows during these walks to see families spending time together and enjoying one another.

16. "Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter"

Again, Frost walks and encounters a spot that he remembers from an amble on a summer's day. While visiting this place in the summer, he spotted a cheerful bird. However, the bird has left its perch for the winter.

Because Frost wrote this, one assumes that there is a deeper meaning behind the absence of the bird. The poem concludes – somewhat optimistically:

"A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through."

Not Every Frost Poem Would Be a Good Choice for a Funeral

There are some pieces about death that we left off of our list. For example, Frost wrote "Home Burial" about the death of a child. "Out, Out—" is another popular text about the accidental death of a person, but it would also not be a good choice for a funeral. Finally, in the poem, "In a Disused Graveyard," Frost discusses death head-on, but it wouldn't be a good choice for a service. 

Take care when choosing a funeral poem. Even if the text is something that your loved one enjoyed, this fact might be lost on those reading the poem at the funeral. 

Do you need help planning the funeral for a friend or loved one? Turn to the resources Cake provides for assistance.

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