Have you ever thought about what you want to be said at your funeral? I have. I don’t mean what I want people to say about me. Of course I want people to say nice things about me. I’m talking about the program–the message, the readings, the songs. I look at it this way: it’s one of the few times, perhaps the only time, a captive audience will be gathered to hear exclusively about things that I care about. So I might as well take advantage of it.
Along with I Corinthians 15 and “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” from Handel’s Messiah, I want my funeral to include a reading of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 6. And since I happen to have the Norton edition of Donne’s poetry sitting here at my desk, I thought I would share that sonnet in its entirety here.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then, from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell.
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And easier than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we live eternally,
And Death shall be no more. Death, thou shalt die.