Death is Nothing at All - A Poem About Life

Canon Henry Scott Holland was the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London when he wrote the highly emotive and memorable poem or elegy "Death is Nothing at All." D often comments on his amazement at how many permutations there are of the poem and in some cases I've heard him express his disappointment at how often people modify it. 'Perhaps it's because they don't fully understand all of the words, or the amazing history behind the elegy,' D says to me. But I do know that each time he shares these lovely thoughts, people are deeply moved. D says there's a passion behind the elegy and there's a powerful conviction that transcends all other poems about God's promise.

I'm pleased to share it with you. I've set it out in my doggy blog just the way D reads it. I hope it touches you the same way it touches him.

Death is nothing at all,
it does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I and you are you,
And the old life we lived so fondly together
Is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other; that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way, which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed,
at the little jokes that we shared together.
Play, smile, think of me; pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
simply because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment
and all will be as it was before.

And oh how we shall laugh at the trouble of parting
when we meet again!




Anonymous said...

What makes this poem so beautiful is not just the words. Its the way you share it with others. We all spoke about you and your conviction as you shared this with us at Bea Causebrooks funeral. It was one of the most beautiful things Ive ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Father Bill. My husband and I attended Peter Callins funeral on Monday. I had to write to say that of all the funerals we've ever attended, this one was the most sincere, heartfelt, and touching. You helped us and especially Laura to smile, to cry, and even to laugh and I heard people behind me weep as you shared this poem. Thank you for making this sad event such a joyous occasion. Marilyn and Andrew Richards