Mary Elizabeth Frye wrote a poem once. It was entitled “Do not stand at my grave and weep”. Frye was housing a young German Jewish woman named Margaret at the time, and Margaret’s mum died in Germany. Margaret was devastated, as she couldn’t travel to Germany, and told Frye she never had the chance to “stand at my mother’s grave and shed a tear”.
Frye wrote this poem on a brown paper shopping bag for Margaret. An expression of life and death.
- Do not stand at my grave and weep,
- I am not there, I do not sleep.
- I am in a thousand winds that blow,
- I am the softly falling snow.
- I am the gentle showers of rain,
- I am the fields of ripening grain.
- I am in the morning hush,
- I am in the graceful rush
- Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
- I am the starshine of the night.
- I am in the flowers that bloom,
- I am in a quiet room.
- I am in the birds that sing,
- I am in each lovely thing.
- Do not stand at my grave bereft
- I am not there. I have not left.
This poem has inspired many other poems and songs over the years. One such song, by Japanese singer songwriter Man Arai, is titled ‘Become a thousand winds’
I love the line in Frye’s poem: ‘I am in a thousand winds that blow’. But I love Arai’s ‘become a thousand winds’ even more.
BECOME. It’s active. It’s a command. It speaks of determination, commitment to growth, and momentum.
WIND. Strong. It’s movement. There’s no room to be stagnant. And it’s also gentle and soothing. Always bringing change. Carrying something to somewhere.
And then, A THOUSAND winds. So many. Multiple opportunities. More powerful than a singular.
And it’s not only applicable to death. In my opinion.
I often think about what I’d want people to say about me at my funeral. Maybe morbid, but hey. That’s me. People say to work things back from the desired end result, so I figure if I know what I want people to say about me, that will indicate a good way to live along the way to that end.
Other than the things I already have in my head that I’d like to think people might possibly say of me one day;
I’d also love to have been a thousand winds.