'Do not stand at my grave' and 'Weep' is an example of bereavement poetry. The wording of the poem is generally agreed, but there have been variants as people have remembered words differently. It is put into the mouth of a dying or dead person, and it is intended to soothe the living, and is often used at funerals.
The origins of the poem
Mary Elizabeth Frye [1905-2004] was an American florist. In the 1930s, she had a young, German-Jewish girl staying with her, Anna Schwarzkopf. Anna was unable to return because of Nazi persecution, and later learned that her mother was dead. She was heartbroken at not being able to perform ceremonies at her mother's grave. Somehow, Mary's mind gave birth to this poem, but she wrote it on a piece of brown paper. She never copyrighted it, and this is why various versions have arisen.
Reflections on its origin
Mary herself never understood how it came to her, and her subsequent poetic works never reached this standard. Wordsworth declared that poetry was emotion recollected in tranquility, and so, we can suggest that Mary's emotions were touched by Anna's plight, as she had never before or after been touched, and thus the poem was born. It is a powerful example of how poetry brews in the subconscious, the mystery of the creative process.
The aim of the poem is to soothe the listener. We can see how it was intended to comfort Anna, but it is used to comfort many others, especially when there are services for major disasters, and it is sometimes used at funerals. Secular funerals, at which no prayers are possible. sometimes use this poem.
Power of the poem
The power of the poem is to evoke beautiful things and say that the person is in all those. The body in the grave is not the dead person, it is merely a corpse. However, the soul of the deceased has not flown away into another world, but is more intimately related to this one. It has been drawn back into nature, like a return to Mother Earth, and it is now present in all the beauties of the earth.
The religious sentiments in this poem are not fully clear, though the poem suggests that Frye did not hold a conventional view of the afterlife. The poem's emphasis upon nature has led it to being at times regarded as a pagan poem, though whether this reflects Frye's view is unclear.