I prepared your funeral leaflet myself (not a fun task) and decided to put some quotes in the inside cover. Rather than selecting one particular poem or reading, I picked a few extracts that seemed relevant to me.
I wonder what you would have thought of them, whether you would have approved of my choices. Here they are:
“Bring it back, bring it back, don’t take it away from me,
Because you don’t know what it means to me.”
“That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went, and cannot come again.”
A E Houseman
“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.”
W H Auden
“And the years fly on for ever, Till the shadows veil their skies.”
Roses of Picardy
“Is life a boon?
If so it must befall That death, whene’re he call,
Must call too soon.”
W S Gilbert
“Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.”
“Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?”
Canon Henry Scott-Holland
“Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.
I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.”
“There is a time for everything, A time to be born and a time to die.”
“All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
“And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
If you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I will sleep in peace until you come to me.”
“Weep if you must, Parting is hell.
But life goes on, So…sing as well.”
Subsequently, I keep coming across other things that I could have included, but never mind, too late now.
For example, ‘My Love, My Life’, which gets said at the end of one of the big epics, Ben Hur, I think, when she’s at his feet and he’s on the cross. We definitely watched that together and both wept copiously. I may use that on your gravestone.
Also, a phrase that’s been breaking my heart since I heard it in this new context, having played my Pirates of Penzance CD one day (actually hoping to cheer myself up). It’s at the beginning of a beautiful love duet, when he’s going away, and she sings, ‘Ah, leave me not to pine alone and desolate’.
That definitely should have been included in the quotes – I would have put it at the top of the list. Again, I’ve thought of putting it on your stone, but it’s more something that’s familiar and poignant to me, and not to you – you might not even have heard or known it.
So that issue will require more thought.