A Literary Memorial Service Poem
June 7, 2010 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a literary and beautiful memorial service poem or passage for an actor, raconteur, well-read Renaissance man. A small group of friends is gathering to remember our actor friend. He was the perfect Falstaff and Dr. Faustus, but the poem/passage does not have to come from those works. It could be about acting, leaving the stage, turning off the lights, etc. but not clichéd or maudlin. Thank you.
posted by Elsie to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is our life? A play of passion,
Our mirth the music of division.
Our mother's wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
Our graves that hide us from the setting sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest, that's no jest.

-- Sir Walter Raleigh
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:25 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Prospero's Farewell to His Magic:

Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into are, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with sleep.

posted by smoke at 4:57 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rainer Maria Rilke, "On Hearing of a Death."
Translation - Albert Ernest Flemming:

We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death
does not deal with us. We have no reason
to show death admiration, love or hate;
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us

a false impression. The world's stage is still
filled with roles which we play. While we worry
that our performances may not please,
death also performs, although to no applause.

But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you dissapeared: green,
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.

We keep on playing, still anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
as required. But your presence so suddenly
removed from our midst and from our play, at times

overcomes us like a sense of that other
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
forgetting altogether the applause.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 7:11 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.


There are 9,730 Google results for "is rounded with sleep" and 127,000 for "is rounded with a sleep".
posted by westerly at 7:24 AM on June 8, 2010

Yeah, it's definitely "rounded with a sleep."
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:20 PM on June 10, 2010

Yeah sorry I didn't check, just copy and pasted the first one I found, there's a coupla other typos in there, too...
posted by smoke at 4:18 PM on June 10, 2010

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