Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep” is the first line and popular title of a bereavement poem of disputed authorship. The poem was popularized during the late 1970s thanks to a reading by John Wayne that inspired further readings on television. During the late 1990s, Mary Elizabeth Frye claimed to have written the poem in 1932. This was purportedly confirmed in 1998 research conducted for the newspaper column “Dear Abby” (Pauline Phillips). However, the Oxford journal “Notes and Queries” published a 2018 article claiming the poem, originally titled “Immortality“, was in fact written by Clare Harner Lyon (1909-1977) and first published under her maiden name (Harner) in the December 1934 issue of The Gypsy poetry magazine.

Original version

Below is the version published in The Gypsy of December 1934 (page 16), under the title “Immortality” and followed by the author’s name and location: “CLARE HARNER, Topeka, Kan.” The indentation and line breaks are as given there.

Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.
I am not there,
I do not sleep—
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints in snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle, autumn rain.
As you awake with morning’s hush,
I am the swift, up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the day transcending night.
Do not stand
By my grave, and cry—
I am not there,
I did not die.

Rose Bud Rose In The Snow Ice Cemetery Nature

Rose Bud In Cemetery

Other versions

Other versions of the poem appeared later, usually without attribution, such as the one below. Differing words are shown in it by italics.

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 the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn’s 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 star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.

The poem is twelve lines long, rhyming in couplets. Each line is in iambic tetrameter, except for lines five and seven, the fifth having an extra syllable, the seventh, two extra.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia