Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Variations and History:
This poem is commonly read at funerals and used for headstone inscriptions. It was written in 1932, by Mary Elizabeth Frye, and was the first of her poems, after having never written any prior poetry. She never published or copyrighted the poem, but circulated it through friends and family.
The poem was inspired by her thoughts on life and death after seeing a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with Mary and her husband in Baltimore, suffer through the death of her ill mother in Germany. Prior to her mothers death, Schwarzkopf had been told not to return home because of an increasing anti-Semitic sentiment. When her mother died, the grieving woman was heartbroken over never having the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”.