Poems for Funerals an essay by Merle Bromley |
One of the poems that I recommend for reading at a funeral is by the Greek poet Cafavy. It’s kind of allegorical but not completely so and sounds a little bit intellectual but by the end, its effect is so lovely and so soothing that you forgive its slight ‘otherness’. I have read it at a couple of funerals and people find it very satisfying, particularly if the deceased person was something of an adventurer.
Ithaca by Cafavy
As you set out on the journey to Ithaca Wish that the way be long, Full of adventures, full of knowledge. Don't be afraid of Laistrygonians, the Cyclops, Angry Poseidon,you'll never find them on your way if your thought stays exalted, if a rare Emotion touches your spirit and body. You won't meet the Laistrigonians And the Cyclops and wild Poseidon If you don't bear them along in your soul, If your soul doesn't raise them before you.
Wish that the way be long. May there be many summer evenings When with such pleasure, such joy You enter ports seen for the first time; May you stop in Phoenician emporia To buy fine merchandise, Mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony And every kind of perfume, Buy abundant sensual perfumes, as many as you can Travel to many Egyptian cities To learn and learn from their scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind Arriving there is your destination But don't hurry the journey at all, Better it lasts many years, And your moor on the island when you are old, Rich with all you have gained along the way, Not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey. Without her you would not have set out on your way. She has no more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not betray you. With all your wisdom, all your experience, You understand now what Ithacas mean.
A version of this poem read by the great Australian actor Jack Thompson can be heard on a CD called Poems for Funerals available on the Fine Poets label. I believe it is also available as a download on iTunes and Bandcamp. If you need a Poem for A Funeral, then do consider this one.
Poems For Funerals Famous Australian Poetry Jack Thompson
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erle Bromley, Poems For Funerals, Famous Australian Poetry, Jack Thompson,