There’s a certain symbolic quality to life on the open road. In literature and poetry, roads are often used to symbolize important choices or auspicious journeys. In real life, the road often attracts adventurous spirits who enjoy discovering new places.
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Truck driving as a profession draws an eclectic bunch of people. Some people aren’t cut out for such a difficult lifestyle, while others thrive. If you go by stereotypes, you might not think poetry would be something that most truckers appreciate. But they may actually have the best understanding of the inherent poetry of an endless highway.
If you’re planning a funeral for a loved one who was a truck driver, the perfect poem can help define the tone of the ceremony. While sad poems can add solemnity to a traditional funeral service, uplifting poems can help set the mood for a lighthearted celebration of life services. The poems below can help you host a meaningful funeral for a truck driver in your life.
Sad Poems for a Truck Driver’s Funeral
Poems about death aren’t always inherently sad, but they can certainly stir up a lot of emotions. That’s part of what makes them so perfect as a funeral reading option. Poems are an emotional art form that can cut to the heart of what you’re feeling. These sad poems can help mourners reach a certain level of catharsis.
1. “White in the Moon the Long Road Lies” by A.E. Housman
This poem was written in 1896, which is the same year that the pickup truck was invented. But while truck driving didn’t exist yet, this poem captures the loneliness of trucking life in lines like these:
“White in the moon the long road lies,
The moon stands blank above;
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.”
The hardest part of being a trucker is leaving your family behind. Similarly, what many people fear most about death is leaving their loved ones behind. This poem beautifully expresses the melancholy that often comes with leaving.
2. “The Way Through the Woods” by Rudyard Kipling
In addition to poetry, Rudyard Kipling is known for crafting short stories and novels. His versatility in genres gives his poems a rich and detailed quality. This poem may be short, but it’s packed with evocative imagery that paints a beautiful picture.
The poem itself is about a once widely-used road that has been reclaimed by the forest after years of disuse. It makes for a poignant tribute for a truck driver. Much like truck drivers can find solace in the road, the road can find companionship with its travelers.
3. “Sundowning” by Andrew Shields
Much like roads are often imbued with symbolism in poetry, so are sunsets. The setting of the sun in real life signifies that the day will soon come to an end. In poetry, it can often serve as a metaphor for the ending of a life.
Here though, there’s an additional layer of meaning. The word “sundowning” in the title refers to a set of symptoms frequently exhibited by dementia patients. This can include confusion, restlessness, and wandering. Knowing that infuses lines like these with additional meaning:
“The trucks roll by on the highway.
You want to follow that sound.
You want to have your say
4. “Roads” by Sarah Unna
This short but powerful poem honors the ancestors who paved the roads we walked in both life and death.
“You who have made the ancient road of turf,
That my feet might pass over it
Into the level evening —
Make now the ancient road of tears
That my song may pass over it;
Make the ancient road of song
That my ghost may pass over it,
Coming with the new earth.”
5. “Catchpenny Road” by Elizabeth Spires
This melancholy poem talks about an unmarked road lined that wends its way through a silent forest:
“Spiked firs border the road.
Behind each one are ghosts
Whose names we don’t know,
Who watch us, who
Who’d never hurt us.”
Lines like these create a sense of solemnity and solitude which create a surprisingly emotional effect.
6. “The Road Home” by Victoria Hallerman
The life of a truck driver is often a weary one. Driving is hard physical work that often takes many grueling hours. Drivers may also have to unload heavy items once they arrive. It’s not unusual for a truck driver to be exhausted at the end of a long journey. This poem captures the weariness and grittiness of the lifestyle.
“Light slips over the asphalt at regular intervals,
Road-ghosts evading pressure of tire on pavement.”
Uplifting Poems for a Truck Driver’s Funeral
If truck drivers are known for one thing, it’s for being unpredictable. If your late loved one was a truck driver, odds are that they’d prefer for people to remember them with laughter instead of tears. These uplifting poems are perfect for a more hopeful and optimistic memorial service.
7. “Song of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman
This poem doesn’t quite fit the theme in some ways, as it’s actually quite long. However, it is broken into fifteen sections, many of which would make perfect stand-alone reading for a funeral service.
It also meets the theme in ways that are more important than length. Each section explores the relationship between the narrator and the road. The fourth section in particular really captures the dynamic:
“O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.”
8. “My God It’s Full of Stars” by Tracy K. Smith
Truck drivers often keep unusual hours. Their schedules are often determined by how time-sensitive a delivery is. But cross-country truck drivers, in particular, can have some flexibility when it comes to the time of day they drive. While some truckers prefer to drive by the light of day, others like to take advantage of lighter traffic after dark.
In this poem, the writer explores the potential views that await us after death. Do people who die get to see the vast expanse of the universe in all of its immense glory? And how does the view compare from the cab of a truck as it steers down an empty road in the dark?
9. “Roads” by Edward Thomas
This lovely poem has a mystical element to it that creates almost a dreamlike quality. Thomas does a wonderful job depicting the alternating joy and weariness that accompanies life on the road. Though verses like these are short, they are packed with meaning:
“Often footsore, never
Yet of the road I weary,
Though long and steep and dreary,
As it winds on for ever.”
10. “The Road” by K.P.A. Taylor
This evocative poem describes how much the terrain can change over a long journey. The lyrical descriptions of the landscape are packed with beauty and emotion. In some ways, it serves as a metaphor for life’s journey. Sometimes life takes you down winding roads that are perilous and steep. Other times, it steers you past gently rolling meadows.
11. “The Roads Taken” by Barbara Kynett
One of the best parts of journeying through life is the opportunity to experience new things. This optimistic poem captures the promise that lingers in the air when you embark on a new adventure. The cheery industriousness of this poem infuses listeners with a sense of hope.
12. “The Road and the End” by Carl Sandburg
This plainspoken poem tells the story of a person who is determined to make it to the end of the road:
“The broken boulders by the road
Shall not commemorate my ruin.
Regret shall be the gravel under foot.
I shall watch for
Slim birds swift of wing
That go where wind and ranks of thunder
Drive the wild processionals of rain.
The dust of the travelled road
Shall touch my hands and face.”
The quiet confidence in this poem will help mourners feel a sense of peace.
The Poetry of the Open Road
In literature and poetry alike, roads often have a certain symbolism attached to them. Sometimes roads can signify a choice, as they do in the Robert Frost poem “The Road Less Traveled”. Often they represent the beginning of a journey. And sometimes, they can even symbolize a journey’s end. These funeral poems can help you pay tribute to a truck driver whose wheels have finally stopped turning.
- “10 of the Best Poems about Roads.” Interestingliterature.com, Interesting Literature, 1 August 2020, interestingliterature.com/2017/07/10-of-the-best-poems-about-roads/.