Last night a dear friend, whose son died almost three years ago, gave me a sheet of paper upon which were written the following words:
This poem is often read at funerals. The author, Henry Scott-Holland (1847-1918), a priest at St. Paul’s Cathedral of London, did not intend it as a poem, it was actually delivered as part of a sermon in 1910. The sermon, titled, “Death the King of Terror” was preached while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster.
Death Is Nothing At All
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing as happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
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 because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.