55 Graveyard Poems to Remember the Dead

As the world turns, the veil between life and death remains a topic that has intrigued scholars, poets, and writers for centuries.

Graveyards, these silent landscapes that house the remains of the departed, have inspired countless works of art, including the somber yet profound realm of graveyard poetry.

From the pen of literary giants to lesser-known poets, these graveyard poems explore themes of mortality, remembrance, and the eerie beauty of burial grounds.

In the words of the renowned American author, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

Poems about graveyards often delve into the mysterious and contemplative aspects of human existence, making them a source of solace and reflection.

Let’s dive into these poems now.

Best Graveyard Poems

Delve into the best poems about graveyards that have left a lasting impact on readers, capturing the essence of life, death, and remembrance with profound elegance.

1. Forgiveness

       by John Greenleaf Whittier

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

2. Whisper of Old Guard

       by William Shade

I hear a whisper
Down by the graveyard

A song, a lyric
The tune of a bard

I wonder what ghost
What phantom on guard

Would sing such a hymn
Inside a graveyard

My soul did shutter
My heart, it was marred

I strode without heed
Past gate, entry barred

But found only stones
With legacy scarred

Yet led to one stone
The music had starred

Moss-covered and old
Blackened, chipped and chard

Bearing not a name
Nor Flowers, nor card

Nor a date set there
For passers regard

It seemed forgotten
A timeless discard

But somehow I knew
Here lay the old guard

Singing the anthem
No ghost, but a shard

Anthem of the lost
Inside this graveyard

3. In a Grave-Yard

       by William Stanley Braithwaite

In calm fellowship they sleep
Where the graves are dark and deep,
Where nor hate nor fraud nor feud
Mar their perfect brotherhood.
After all was done they went
Into dreamless sleep, content,
That the years would pass them by,
Sightless, soundless, where they lie.
Wines and roses, song and dance,
Have no portion in their trance—
The four seasons are as one,
Dark of night, and light of sun.

4. Silent Sentinels: A Graveyard’s Secrets

       by Asad Mehmood

The graveyard lay silent and still,
A place of decay and rot,
Where nature’s dark side takes its fill,
And the dead are all forgot.

The headstones rise like crooked teeth,
Jagged edges worn with age,
Marking the graves of those beneath,
Who’ve left life’s final page.

The grass is long and overgrown,
A blanket of decay,
A creeping moss that’s never known
The warmth of a summer day.

The trees are twisted, gnarled, and bent,
Their branches reaching out,
A canopy of discontent,
A shadow of what life’s about.

The air is thick with mist and fog,
A shroud that hides the graves,
A cloak of death that smothers all,
An unending, suffocating wave.

The ground is soft and spongy,
A feast for worms and bugs,
A reminder that all is fleeting,
A reminder of life’s shrugs.

The graveyard’s secrets are many,
A mystery that’s never told,
A place where death and decay,
Are the stories that are old.

But in this place of horror and creep,
Where the dead are never at rest,
Nature’s dark side is on display,
A reminder that death is the test

5. A Walk Through The Cemetery

       by Gary Soto

I searched for twenty minutes
For my murdered friend’s grave,
A small, white marker,
# 356 it reads. He is not
This number, or any number,
And he is not earth,
But a memory
Of how he and I hiked
Through this Oakland cemetery—
What, six months before
He was shot? We stopped
At the Fred Korematsu stone,
Righteous man, stubborn
Behind bars for refusing
The Japanese-American internment in 1942—
Jail for him, in suit and tie, god dammit.
We righted flowers at his grave,
Bright with toy-like American flags,
And shaded our eyes to follow
The flight of the hawks above.
We left and walked up a slope
And visited a part of the cemetery
Where the Chinese are buried,
A division of races, a preference?

Now I’m at his grave marker—
The stone for him has yet to arrive.
His widow lives a mile up
In the Oakland Hills.
Here is truth: she has a telescope
Trained on his grave.
She pours coffee—she looks.
She does the vacuuming—she looks.
She comes home hugging bags
Of groceries—she looks.
Perhaps she is getting up
From the piano, an eye wincing
Behind the telescope.
If so, she would see me
Looking at marker #366—
This plot is available,
Purchasable, ready
For a down payment.
But the first installment
I must pay with my life.
What then? His widow
Will still keep the telescope
Trained on his grave,
Now and then swiveling
It to #366, his friend.
The buzzing bees would languidly
Pass the honey between us.

6. The Only Place to Rest

       by Felix Vanasse

The only place to rest:
a child-sized park bench
wrought of black iron,
its thin slats of cedarwood
hosting a garden
of dark moulds and bright,
minty lichens.

Warm touches
of rust and wear
highlight its edges,
even as
it slowly sinks
into the moss
under the birch tree
in the graveyard.

It is gorgeous in its state of decay

and by God’s grace, it held
as I sank into it
and as the birch
wrapped its arms around me.

7. A Discovered Graveyard

       by Jonathan Moya

The dead come along the living unexpectedly,
their grassy treads kicking upon their stones
once upright now downturned in the weeds.

They just wish to rest in peace, away from
these stumbling fools that wound themselves
on weathered marble letters written large:

“the ones who living come today
to read the stones and go away
tomorrow dead will come to stay.”

They are tired of these ancient un-mournings
that pick themselves up and go on, never
returning with flowers or for grave rubbings.

Don’t they know that every second brings
them closer to them? Yet, they still rather
die apart, letting their lies catch up with them.

8. Written in The Churchyard at Middleton in Sussex

       by Charlotte Smith

Pressed by the Moon, mute arbitress of tides,
While the loud equinox its power combines,
The sea no more its swelling surge confines,
But o’er the shrinking land sublimely rides.
The wild blast, rising from the western cave,
Drives the huge billows from their heaving bed;
Tears from their grassy tombs the village dead,
And breaks the silent sabbath of the grave!
With shells and sea-weed mingled, on the shore,
Lo! their bones whiten in the frequent wave;
But vain to them the winds and waters rave;
They hear the warring elements no more:
While I am doomed, by life’s long storm oppressed,
To gaze with envy on their gloomy rest.

9. Beauty Beyond The Shadows

       by Mark Van Loan

the full strawberry moon of June rose
above the cemetery gates, illuminating
granite graves and the mausoleum

glinting on the marsh beyond
glinting upon the s-shaped
stream that wanders it’s banks
beside ghosts who dream

the moon grew above the town
a peaceful lamp as earth went round
casting its golden hue down

spectres lurked about the graves
like poisonous thoughts that kept replaying
moonlight rippled in amber waves

crickets mixed the night with horns
fog and scatter in the forlorn morn
still, the aroma of lilacs on dawns’ breath

crows circled the yellow carriage house
eyeing dumpsters and shrieking
in the blue gray transition to daybreak

beauty beyond the shadows
of these city simmerings,
beauty in lush green reeded streams
that still beneath rusted iron bridges,
beauty in the wild flower fields
that wander towards tranquility

10. Filling in The Family Tree

       by M.L. Kiser

Working on the ancestry
in a graveyard one windy day, post lunch.
I had planned to spend the afternoon
verifying information in my ancestral tree.
I found an ancestor for whom I was looking,
but the saying on the tombstone
was not flattering.
I stared at the words,
then read out loud;
“Just when we learned to love her,
God took her away.”
and then said to myself,
I wonder why they
had to learn to love her?
A sudden tempest raged at me;
angry winds whipping my long hair
into a large and clumsy looking top-knot
in my mind, I heard a scream from the ethers.
The creaking tree limb,
swung and squeaked,
as if to shame me for
asking such a question;
I had never seen such a display before.
I quickly snapped a photo of the stone,
and headed for the car;
as soon as I left the cemetery,
the winds calmed.
Looking back, the tree limb
had fallen to the ground by the grave,
right where I’d been standing.
I’ve often thought I should go back
and check for more family stones,
for some reason I never have.

Famous Graveyard Poems

Explore the famous poems about graveyards penned by literary legends that have made graveyards a subject of timeless fascination, encapsulating the mysteries and beauty of these sacred spaces.

1. Graveyard Digging

       by Alexa C. Grayson

Digging in a graveyard
looking for a friend
I stumbled upon a mossy engraving
which elegantly said
“Here lies the Woman in Gold
since the day you were born
she was killed on a monday evening
by the cry of a child at their mother’s birthgiving”

So I dug that grave
till the shovel hit a soft crate
I looked inside the already open coffin
and heard a voice behind me
The Woman in Gold
whispered in my ear
she took me by the throat
and watched me fall
not a human but a corpse
hit the silky layer
cold dirt covering my back
for the casket was left open

And before the work was done
she laughed and cried in joy
“I was walking with my friends here
when you killed me with your tears
now it is my turn to cry
for I can finally come back to life”

2. The Golden Butterfly

       by Hans Ostrom

In an old Gold Rush town’s cemetery
on a hillside, summer, we were building
a cinder block enclosure for a family plot.

I stood up for a moment
to unkink the back and gazed
from the shade of the big
graveyard oaks, down the hill
to where brilliant sunlight shown.

I saw a golden butterfly
take its lazy, jagged, jazzy
flight into the light
and finally out of my vision.
Back to work.

The image has lived with me
since then, alighting like a butterfly
on a tall flower, lowering and lifting
its stiff, patterned wings,
trying to defy time.

3. A Jewish Cemetery in Germany

       by Yehuda Amichai

On a little hill amid fertile fields lies a small cemetery,
a Jewish cemetery behind a rusty gate, hidden by shrubs,
abandoned and forgotten. Neither the sound of prayer
nor the voice of lamentation is heard there
for the dead praise not the Lord.
Only the voices of our children ring out, seeking graves
and cheering
each time they find one–like mushrooms in the forest, like
wild strawberries.
Here’s another grave! There’s the name of my mother’s
mothers, and a name from the last century. And here’s a name,
and there! And as I was about to brush the moss from the name–
Look! an open hand engraved on the tombstone, the grave
of a kohen,
his fingers splayed in a spasm of holiness and blessing,
and here’s a grave concealed by a thicket of berries
that has to be brushed aside like a shock of hair
from the face of a beautiful beloved woman.

4. The Grave Rain

       by Dmitrij Epiphantzev

It is raining again
Outside and in soul
I gave up to pretend
That I’m well now doing

I was waiting for light
Or sometimes for chaos
But the sun isn’t bright
Saw grey clouds in vain

Easily can confirm
That I have just to suffer
I ‘m not waiting for more…
From beyond hearing laughter

See today’s brightful blicks
Flashing told me to settle
With my dreams will I meet
In the grave…doesn’t matter

Fearless time here kills
Our life, our freedom
But we all will forgive
In the grave you’re sincere

We would make an embrace
You are here. It’s real
Dear cemetery fence
Will make you so near

It is raining again
Outside and in soul
Therefore, in the grave
You will lie wet and low

5. Sunflowers and Fields of Graves

       by Jace Loring

Last year, corn.
This year, the brilliance
of sunflowers wrap around
the square where you lay, dear Grands.

They stretch over the hill
They are rooted in place
They feel the coming of fall
They know what their future holds

Your bloom also spans the earth
as unstoppable as thistles
everywhere, everywhere, everywhere
except inside this sterile square

Here, empty shells are still planted
Here, monuments still grow.
Here, memories ever fade.
Here we watch the sun sink.

You are rooted.
The flowers are rooted.
Someday, perhaps I, too
will find my own place to stand.

6. Horror Loving Story

       by Rapha de Blue

It was our graveyard romance
the moon would always take a glance

But then the townsmen came
with those same old burning torches
and we had to run away

Deep into dead trees valley
the Valley of the Lost
on a place where night never becomes day

Supposedly… we were lost souls
but it was our own heaven at the lonely moon nights
free from all the sights

The stray wolves saw the rose still in your hair, and looked in my eyes
there were no disguise
so they all just got togheter
and tore those townsmen in pieces
after such a long without food

Now we live in loving woods
we left two empty tombs
two names written in the night
names no one would even read right

We never disturbed them, but all those brave men got
widows crying through the nights
and now the the stray wolves see us passing
finally feeling some delight

7. Beyond The Walls

       by Adrian

The band has fallen apart
and I cannot bear to be still
on a Friday night.
I walk across the field,
nodding to the inquisitive cow
and over the wall into the graveyard
carrying my well thumbed songbook.

The unused lyrics.
I recite to this other audience,
competing only with
the stream and roosting birds.

I examine the tombstones
and in the week
write the stories of Edith and Arthur,
and Tommy who died at nineteen.

At the beginning
it is for consolation
but when Autumn comes
I thrill to the scudding clouds and the moon,
singing, as though to the past,
as though to the future.

In misty November
a voice from behind the wall
calls for the one
about the girl
with apple blossom in her hair.

I have been hurt.
I have hurt others
and I want nothing more this winter
than the voice behind the wall.

In April,
a hand reaches over;
it is a girl
with apple blossom in her hair.
She shimmers in the dappled light.
It is fifty one years on
and she demands
that for our golden wedding
I sing here, on this bench,
the very same song,
for our children
and for their children

8. Cling for Dear Life

       by Adrian

Dead leaves
lie astray
on just one grave.

The stone is old,
covered in lichen.

The rubbing of a finger
reveals 1732
and then the pious cant.

Last is the name,
a shock,
the name of the girl who said we should meet here
this twilight hour.

Dead leaves
lie askew
on her grave
and none other.

Any fool would know these are signs;
and I am any fool.

I gaze into the scudding cloud,
and Venus appears.

9. Death Near Coogee

       by J. A. Hartley

Off the Tasman Sea
comes a wind that polishes blind angel eyes
and buffets crosses,
makes waves smile,
holds gulls in quiverring flight,
wobbles a toddler
then puts him back upright. While
under the austral soil
the named rot
in the dank silent sealed vaults
which pepper Waverley. And

at night here, on the coastal path
the graves reflect the light of the dead
moon which hangs high and yellow
above the flat, black sea. Shattered light
leads the way. The boom below
disguises sobs: the moving black shadow
is new – it’s real. Salt

in her long hair: back from the dead
she walks where the little kid fell,
through dead poets and portents
soft the stones. From cliff edge,
she tumbles

Gothic Graveyard Poems

Gothic graveyard poems take you on a journey through the darker, more mysterious side of burial grounds, inviting you to explore their eerie, atmospheric allure.

1. The Mountain Cemetery

       by Edgar Bowers

With their harsh leaves old rhododendrons fill
The crevices in grave plots’ broken stones.
The bees renew the blossoms they destroy,
While in the burning air the pines rise still,
Commemorating long forgotten biers.
Their roots replace the semblance of these bones.

The weight of cool, of imperceptible dust
That came from nothing and to nothing came
Is light within the earth and on the air.
The change that so renews itself is just.
The enormous, sundry platitude of death
Is for these bones, bees, trees, and leaves the same.

And splayed upon the ground and through the trees
The mountains’ shadow fills and cools the air,
Smoothing the shape of headstones to the earth.
The rhododendrons suffer with the bees
Whose struggles loose ripe petals to the earth,
The heaviest burden it shall ever bear.

Our hard earned knowledge fits us for such sleep.
Although the spring must come, it passes too
To form the burden suffered for what comes.
Whatever we would give our souls to keep
Is merely part of what we call the soul;
What we of time would threaten to undo

All time in its slow scrutiny has done.
For on the grass that starts about the feet
The body’s shadow turns, to shape in time,
Soon grown preponderant with creeping shade,
The final shadow that is turn of earth;
And what seems won paid for as in defeat.

2. Thanatopsis

       by William Cullen Bryant

The venerable woods—rivers that move  
In majesty, and the complaining brooks  
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,  
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—  
Are but the solemn decorations all  
Of the great tomb of man.

3. A Night-piece on Death

       by Thomas Parnell

There pass, with melancholy state,
By all the solemn heaps of fate,
And think, as softly-sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
“Time was, like thee they life possessed,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.”

4. England’s Dead

       by Felicia Hemans

Go, stranger! track the deep—
Free, free the white sail spread!
Wave may not foam, nor wild wind sweep,
Where rest not England’s dead.

5. The Grave

       by Robert Blair

In journeying through life; the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb;
Th’ appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These trav’llers meet.

6. In a Disused Graveyard

       by Robert Frost

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never anymore the dead.

The verses in it say and say:
‘The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.’

So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
What is it men are shrinking from?

It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

7. Night-Thoughts

       by Edward Young

How populous, how vital, is the grave!
This is creation’s melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades!

8. A Summer Evening Churchyard

       by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres:
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound,
Half sense half thought, among the darkness stirs,
Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around

9. The Jewish Cemetery at Newport

       by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The trees are white with dust, that o’er their sleep
Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind’s breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they keep
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death

Short Graveyard Poems

For those seeking a quick yet meaningful dose of graveyard poetry, short poems about graveyards offer poignant reflections on life and death in a succinct format.

1. Passing Through

       by Eren

Passing through the graveyard, each section dedicated
to burying different parts of the skeleton.

We stretch uphill into the neck,
and through the hand, finger-grasses phalanx around feet.

As our bodies close in on tomb,
I read you something found on its headstone,

hold me; graze skin,
until you reach bone.

2. I Wonder if The Sepulchre

       by Emily Dickinson

I wonder if the sepulchre
Is not a lonesome way,
When men and boys, and larks and June
Go down the fields to hay!

3. Perched on a Hill

       by Anonymous

There were broken, empty seashells
That growled an ocean’s threnody
And a cemetery
Perched on the hills
With a pair that passed silently
Between the tulips and the graves and the ficus

4. Graveyard

       by Andrew John

They walk towards me
and away
from left to right,
right to left,
creating foreboding, in silence.

It happens every time
like images of rhyme,
visible silent words –
right to left, left to right
at night towards me and away –
creating that foreboding.

I know they’ll be here,
in this shortcut,
the way I take to my cottage.
So strange what fear will do,
such foreboding.
Images master the mind.

5. Late Night DJ

       by Keith Middleton

In the silence, the click of the clock hands moving
Can be heard
Outside the booth the sound engineer twiddles knobs
Balances my words
Somewhere in the ether a signal pulses, searching
For a receiver
I nod, slowly, clearly as I introduce the next record
“I’m a believer”

Past midnight, only few awake, insomniacs, or in pain
Just them and me
I gently croon the words I speak, almost a whispering
Gentle breeze of hope
The click clicks on, towards the early hours and day
And I wind down
My final words requesting those awake to join with me
When nighttime calls again

6. Visiting The Graves

       by Kobayashi Issa

Visiting the graves,
the old dog
leads the way.

7. Graveyard Blues

       by Brandon DeJong

Spirits hover,
graveyard dark.
Somber people
trudge along.
Tears, sorrow,
love, joy.
Emotions heavy
like boulders.
The weight
is heavy.
The soul
is light.
Be lifted
high above.
into the
graveyard sky.

8. St. Mary’s Tower

       by James George

At the Dartington Estate in Devon
stands the remains of the ancient St. Mary’s church,
all that is left after a fire in the mid-1800s.

Her tower is like the largest tomb
where all the others stand or lean,
and some have fallen.

A caretaker came along to mow the grass,
and decided to move the fallen slabs
and lean them against the wall.

Since the inscribed stones never lived,
nor their masters never saw them
it’s alright to have them standing guard.

9. Someone Breaks the Silence of Grave

       by Deepika

Graves are silent through the darkness..
Just oak trees surrounding the graveyard..
An owl on oak tree looking through the darkness..
Asks one of the grave who is this visitor today..
A grave breaks it’s silence
through the darkness..
Says he is my best friend with my favourite
flowers and a return gift..
The owl and the grave welcomes the visitor
through the darkness..
The visitor shed tears and keep the flowers
and a gift..
He leaves the grave with watery eyes
through the darkness…

Long Graveyard Poems

Long poems about graveyards provide a deeper exploration of the themes surrounding mortality, remembrance, and the significance of these hallowed resting places.

1. In a Church Yard

       by Richard Wilbur

That flower unseen, that gem of purest ray,
Bright thoughts uncut by men:
Strange that you need but speak them, Thomas Gray,
And the mind skips and dives beyond its ken,

Finding at once the wild supposed bloom,
Or in the imagined cave
Some pulse of crystal staving off the gloom
As covertly as phosphorus in a grave.

Void notions proper to a buried head!
Beneath these tombstones here
Unseenness fills the sockets of the dead,
Whatever to their souls may now appear;

And who but those unfathomably deaf
Who quiet all this ground
Could catch, within the ear’s diminished clef,
A music innocent of time and sound?

What do the living hear, then, when the bell
Hangs plumb within the tower
Of the still church, and still their thoughts compel
Pure tollings that intend no mortal hour?

As when a ferry for the shore of death
Glides looming toward the dock,
Her engines cut, her spirits bating breath
As the ranked pilings narrow toward the shock,

So memory and expectation set
Some pulseless clangor free
Of circumstance, and charm us to forget
This twilight crumbling in the churchyard tree,

Those swifts or swallows which do not pertain,
Scuffed voices in the drive,
That light flicked on behind the vestry pane,
Till, unperplexed from all that is alive,

It shadows all our thought, balked imminence
Of uncommitted sound,
And still would tower at the sill of sense
Were not, as now, its honeyed abeyance crowned

With a mauled boom of summons far more strange
Than any stroke unheard,
Which breaks again with unimagined range
Through all reverberations of the word,

Pooling the mystery of things that are,
The buzz of prayer said,
The scent of grass, the earliest-blooming star,
These unseen gravestones, and the darker dead.

2. The Flowers in The Cemetery

       by Hannah Flagg Gould

Peace keeps the place where we spring up and bloom.
Kind, gentle angels hover round, to spread
Our tender leaves, and bow us by the tomb
To pour our freshest odors o’er the dead.
Soft, silent air supplies our vital breath.
It wafts no sound of tumult, mirth, or strife,
Where, for the mourners, in the land of Death,
Beneath his throne we open into life.
Praise to our Maker is the holy part
Assigned to us; and, while his power we show,
With soothing skill to reach the stricken heart,
Awhile to lull the throbbing pulse of woe.
We to the eye, that on our native sod
Retires unseen to shed the dew of grief,
Attest the presence of a perfect God,
Whose glory shines on every opening leaf.
Who then our beauty can behold, nor feel
Something, not sadness, but to joy allied,
Upon the wounded bosom sweetly steal,
Like balm by spirit-ministers applied?
Tell us, ye sad ones, if it be not thus;
Do ye not own this soothing art is ours,
When ye come out to breathe your sighs to us,
And count your sorrows to your cherished flowers?
Here do ye find us steady to our trust,
As sentinels, who stand to guard the dead.
Each has her charge to watch the sacred dust,
Of some one sleeping in the dreamless bed.
Well is our high and solemn office done.
Since we were planted, not a foot has crossed
A spot that we have pointed out as one
Where rests a friend, that ye have loved and lost.
Night falls around us, like a mourner’s veil;
But, though our beauties in the dimness fade,
Still does the pure, free essence we exhale
Ascend and penetrate the deepest shade.
If thus the better part of those you weep,
From death and darkness, rose to life and light;
Then lift your hearts from all that earth could keep
To that blest world where you may re-unite.
Such is the part that we, the humble Flowers,
Perform; and such the solace we would give
To man, who, while we bloom our few short hours,
Has yet a whole eternity to live!

3. Gaiety in a Graveyard

       by Zaynab Akbar

My heart was a graveyard before you came
Your arrival was violently gentle
So aggressively you made my barren land your own;
You took my dead trees and breathed life into them as you did me
You forced plants into my grounds
My grounds on which not even the lowest of creatures set foot

My heart was a graveyard and I was the owner
I floated around with my dead friends
Ghosts of memories I had long forgotten
And I was numb to life outside of my little jail
You came and brought the sun and its rays into my territory
It shone yellow and orange on my flesh and made it burn

My heart was a graveyard, completely isolated
You entered and stripped me of my black sheath
And shaded me gold, blended your colors into my pigments
Ever so gently you caressed my thighs, the navy bruises
Faded with your milky touch
And for the first time I felt relief

My heart was a graveyard and it was absolutely abandoned by me
But you filled my gates with love and affection
And when we rose we rose together
Phoenixes in our fire, white flames erupting altogether
Glorious in the ashes of my rusted armor

I was a graveyard until I found gaiety in you
You studied me and I studied you
You looked at my face and memorized the lines in my hands and the calluses on my skin
The wrinkles on my pale lips you embedded into your fore brain
You left no inch of me undiscovered and I did the same for you
I took in your eyes and your pores
I absorbed your scent until it was all I could smell and hear

Then we became skin and bone
I pulled on you and we moved in unison
A cosmic collision
A prophecy come true

4. Thanatopsis

       by William Cullen Bryant

To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air,—
Comes a still voice—Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee,shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone—nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.—The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Sketching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning—and the Barcan desert pierce,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregan, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet—the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest—and what if thou withdraw
Unheeded by the living—and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come,
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid,
And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man,—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

5. The Moon and The Yew Tree

       by Sylvia Plath

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky —-
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly **** out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness —-
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness — blackness and silence

6. The Jewish Cemetery at Newport

       by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,
Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,
At rest in all this moving up and down!

The trees are white with dust, that o’er their sleep
Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind’s breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they keep
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
That pave with level flags their burial-place,
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
And broken by Moses at the mountain’s base.

The very names recorded here are strange,
Of foreign accent, and of different climes;
Alvares and Rivera interchange
With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

“Blessed be God! for he created Death!”
The mourners said, “and Death is rest and peace;”
Then added, in the certainty of faith,
“And giveth Life that nevermore shall cease.”

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,
No Psalms of David now the silence break,
No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue
In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen,
Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,
Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,
What persecution, merciless and blind,
Drove o’er the sea — that desert desolate —
These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,
Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;
Taught in the school of patience to endure
The life of anguish and the death of fire.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread
And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,
The wasting famine of the heart they fed,
And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

Anathema maranatha! was the cry
That rang from town to town, from street to street;
At every gate the accursed Mordecai
Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

Pride and humiliation hand in hand
Walked with them through the world where’er they went;
Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,
And yet unshaken as the continent.

For in the background figures vague and vast
Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,
And all the great traditions of the Past
They saw reflected in the coming time.

And thus forever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world they read,
Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of the Dead.

But ah! what once has been shall be no more!
The groaning earth in travail and in pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again.

7. The Little Grave Robbers

       by Carl Scott Harker

Sometimes you learn things from cousins
You shouldn’t have.

It was Easter Sunday, when I was eleven,
My cousins were visiting,
We had gone through our baskets
Attended Mass
And done the traditional Easter Egg Hunting
There was still a couple of hours
Before dinner,
When a cousin asked
What was “interesting around here?”
And I mentioned the cemetery,
My cousins looked at each other
Their eyes got big,
And one of them said,
“Treasure Land!”

Abutting the graveyard was
An abandoned house with a weedy yard
And broken windows
Whose ground was a little higher
Than the cemetery’s,
Making it easy to climb the dividing fence
And break in unnoticed.

There had been a lot of visitors earlier
For all around us the headstones and graves
Were covered with new flowers
And other adornments,
We wandered a bit
Reading gravestones, then a cousin said,
“Take us to where the children are buried.”
So I did.

I could not believe my eyes,
There were Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies
And jelly beans and other treats
Still wrapped in red or green cellophane
On the tiny plots
Along with stuffed teddy bears and dolls
And other toys.

My cousins began to plunder the treasure
Opening a basket to nibble on bunny ears
And candy eggs,
Taking toys from one child’s grave or another…

I didn’t want to, but I joined in the revelry,
Like someone else was in control of me,
We didn’t take a lot,
But none of us ate much at dinner
And we all came away
With a doll or bear or something.

Guilt haunted my dreams
The Easter bunny chased me every night
Until I fell into an open grave
Where little mummified children
Pointed at me..
But those nightmares and my guilt
Faded away after a few weeks.

I began to reason with myself –
Ants and dogs would have
Gotten into the candy,
Rain would weather the toys away
And we didn’t actually desecrate
The graves themselves,
Besides it was secret treasure
That was mostly my own
Because my cousins lived out of town.

So over the years, I returned
To the cemetery,
Despite telling myself I wouldn’t,
Sneaking in with fear and excitement
Around holidays
Finding many small delights
Including some costume jewelry
I still have.

Then someone bought and replaced
The old house,
And the cemetery put up a
More daunting fence,
So I stopped going for treats and toys,
Besides, I had grown out of such childish acts
And begun to think about boys.

8. Night Demon

       by Wanda Thibodeaux

She stepped out of the mausoleum,
her gown, black and sequined.
Hair piled high with rhinestone combs,
earrings rich with diamonds.
She had departed her forced resting

In the blackness of the night, she saw
what she was looking for, the drab and
austere man who had put her in this place
and now he was here to gloat over the
control he thought he had over her.
Not happening!

He stood in the shadows staring at
other mausoleums, contemplating empty
prisons for new victims he may pick up.
He was known to be murderous and
mean, called ‘Night Demon’ he caused
pain and suffering every night he lived.

Among her rhinestone combs, rested a
silver blade, one that could sever many arteries
and destroy even the heart. What a surprise he
had coming.

She moved silently behind him. he remained
still as if mesmerized by the night. She couldn’t
let him see her. That would be disastrous.
She raised her blade, heart pumping wildly.

Sadly, his struck first, went deep into her chest,
she wilted like a dead flower, her gorgeous gown,
her treasured diamonds will go to the highest bidder.
A ‘Night Demon’ cannot be fooled!

9. What They Don’t Tell You about Grief

       by Levi M. Evelyn

What they don’t tell you about grief…

What they don’t tell you about grief is that
You’re not just mourning a person
But possibilities too.

When you bury them in the graveyard
Inside your heart, you are also burying
The possibilities of ever smiling together again.
Of sweet summer nights and candied days

What they don’t tell you about grief
Is that it’s beautiful.
Sure, they tell the horrors
The losing, the lost

But they don’t tell you
About the tears that shine
Like stars when they fall.
The murmured promises
Of a better day.

Promises that can only
come from grief.

What they don’t tell you about grief
Is that it’s more than
Just five stages.
Instead it’s a wave

It rains down when you
Are invincible but
Lightly falls when you
Are already broken.

What they don’t tell you about grief
Is that you see it in
The eyes of the living.
Only living can mourn

What they don’t tell you about grief
Is that someone doesn’t
Have to be dead to be mourned.
Someone doesn’t have
To be lost forever to
Cause unimaginable grief

Sometimes it hurts more
When you know they are still here
but they are not here.
Not for you.

What I don’t tell you about grief.
Is that I see it in my own eyes.
I see it calling to you.

What I don’t tell you about grief
Is that there is
already a graveyard filled
With our possibilities.

Graveyard Poems That Rhyme

Poems about graveyards with rhyme add a musical quality to their contemplative themes, making them memorable and engaging as they explore the mysteries of life, death, and beyond.

1. Passing The Graveyard

       by Andrew Young

I see you did not try to save,
The bouquet of white flowers I gave;
So fast they wither on your grave.

Why does it hurt the heart to think
Of that most bitter abrupt brink
Where the low-shouldered coffins sink.

These living bodies that we wear
So change by every seventh year
That in a new dress we appear;

Limbs, spongy brain and slogging heart,
No part remains the selfsame part;
Like streams they stay and still depart.

You slipped slow bodies in the past;
Then why should we be so aghast
You flung off the whole flesh at last?

Let him who loves you think instead
That like a woman who has wed
You undressed first and went to bed

2. Old Yew, Which Graspeth at The Stones

       by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Old Yew, which graspeth at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.

O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:

And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.

3. A Place of Burial in The South of Scotland

       by William Wordsworth

Part fenced by man, part by a rugged steep
That curbs a foaming brook, a Grave-yard lies;
The hare’s best couching-place for fearless sleep;
Which moonlit elves, far seen by credulous eyes,
Enter in dance. Of church, or sabbath ties,
No vestige now remains; yet thither creep
Bereft Ones, and in lowly anguish weep
Their prayers out to the wind and naked skies.
Proud tomb is none; but rudely-sculptured knights,
By humble choice of plain old times, are seen
Level with earth, among the hillocks green:
Union not sad, when sunny daybreak smites
The spangled turf, and neighbouring thickets ring
With ‘jubilate’ from the choirs of spring!

4. The Graveyard

       by Jones Very

My heart grows sick before the wide-spread death,
That walks and speaks in seeming life around;
And I would love the corse without a breath,
That sleeps forgotten ‘neath the cold, cold ground;
For these do tell the story of decay,
The worm and rotten flesh hide not nor lie;
But this, though dying too from day to day,
With a false show doth cheat the longing eye;
And hide the worm that gnaws the core of life,
With painted cheek and smooth deceitful skin;
Covering a grave with sights of darkness rife,
A secret cavern filled with death and sin;
And men walk o’er these graves and know it not,
For in the body’s health the soul’s forgot.

5. My Husband Worked the Graveyard Shift Once Upon a Time

       by Caren Krutsinger

I will never work the graveyard shift
Because elementary students are not awake all night.
My charges whom I persuade and uplift.
They bring me all kinds of happiness and light.

My husband worked the graveyard shift
For about a year, once upon a time, many years ago.
We had two small babies, so the real challenge was mine.
Trying to keep them quiet so he could sleep, filled me full of woe.

He would wake up and be nice about it, but it was not ideal.
Working the graveyard shift means your day sleep must be real.
I am so glad those days are over, they were stressful to me.
And to my husband also, as you can plainly see.

6. In a Graveyard

       by John Milton Hay

In the dewy depths of the graveyard
I lie in the tangled grass,
And watch, in the sea of azure,
The white cloud-islands pass.

The birds in the rustling branches
Sing gaily overhead;
Grey stones like sentinel spectres
Are guarding the silent dead.

The early flowers sleep shaded
In the cool green noonday glooms;
The broken light falls shuddering
On the cold white face of the tombs.

Without, the world is smiling
In the infinite love of God,
But the sunlight fails and falters
When it falls on the churchyard sod.

On me the joyous rapture
Of a heart’s first love is shed,
But it falls on my heart as coldly
As sunlight on the dead.

7. Inscription for a Rural Cemetery

       by Sam G. Goodrich

Peace to the dead! The forest weaves,
Around your couch, its shroud of leaves;
While shadows dim and silence deep,
Bespeak the quiet of your sleep.

Rest, pilgrim, here! Your journey o’er,
Life’s weary cares ye heed no more;
Time’s sun has set, in yonder west-
Your work is done-rest, Pilgrim, rest!

Rest till the morning hour; wait
Here, at Eternity’s dread gate,
Safe in the keeping of the sod,
And the sure promises of God.

Dark is your home-yet round the tomb,
Tokens of hope-sweet flowerets bloom;
And cherished memories, soft and dear,
Blest as their fragrance, linger here!

We speak, yet ye are dumb! How dread
This deep, stern silence of the Dead!
The whispers of the Grave, severe,
The listening Soul alone can hear!

8. Graveyard of Trees

       by Anonymous

Tis the first I have seen
Such a graveyard of trees!
Whose branches strangle the sky

Within the depths of midnight
I was faced with a fright
Twisted limbs reaching up as they screamed

“Please let us live, we beg you good sir!”
The rest I only had to infer
The very farmer that raised them
Couldn’t sustain them
So simply, they were torn from the ground
Such a shame he has never been found!

9. Death by Metal

       by Carl Wayne Jent

Doom and death, take it heavy metal and hard
weeping and sobbing, no escape in the grave yard
bad bones bounce, kill you with six strings
if you want it dark, that’s what Metallica brings

Bloody and battered, fearful of what I saw
they spit in my face and said, kill them all
made me a puppet, they were the master
every time I tried to slow, they went faster

After the third vinal, we all came home hurtin
watch the devil come and take away Burton
finally, was Justice for all, then world went black
didn’t have a choice, grab my dick and didn’t look back

Became the unforgiven, enter the sandman, sad but true
driving me insane, but the memories remain, what to do
first thought it was rock, but found out it was thrash
caught a ride on an armored car full of cash

Don’t care if sabbath got black or how purple got deep
Metallica metal for forty fucking years is the one to keep
shaken my head so much my hair is starting to hurt
move the hell out of way, have to get out if this sweaty shirt

Final Thoughts

Graveyard poetry serves as a bridge between the living and the departed, offering a space for reflection and remembrance.

As you navigate the diverse categories of graveyard poetry, we hope you find solace and inspiration in the verses that explore the profound aspects of life.

These poems about graveyards, from the best and most famous to shorter, rhyming verses, encapsulate the essence of our mortal journey.

We encourage you to share your thoughts and personal connections in the comments section below.

How have graveyard poems touched your heart, or which verses resonate with your own reflections on life and death?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button