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Funeral Poems for Sailors and Seamen

There are some people who are drawn to the sea. They might be sailors, fishermen, in the Navy or just people who enjoy the open water.

But if you’re attending or arranging the funeral for someone who matches that description it can be difficult to find appropriate readings or material for their service.

A funeral poem is a great way to respectfully pay tribute to someone at their funeral. It can help to remember the good memories you have of them or reflect on the deceased’s life.

The funeral poems for sailors we’ve compiled here do a great job of sharing those experiences and are perfectly suited for a eulogy or reading.

Whichever way you choose to pay tribute to a sailor who’s passed away we are confident that one of these funeral poems will express your feelings in the most fitting way.

Funeral Poems for Sailors

I Am Standing Upon The Seashore

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other. 

Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!” 
“Gone where?”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. 

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.

By Henry Van Dyke


A Sailor For The Lord

Go down to the Sea once more, Old Sailor.
For where else would an Old Jack Tar Be?
But riding the waves, and tasting the brine.
Out there, on God’s Heavenly Seas.

With fair weather assured every voyage.
No storms. No clouds in the Sky.
And with calm blue waters to sail on.
And ever, bright Stars to steer by.

A fine, sturdy Ship to sail in.
And revered old Shipmates to crew.
And with an Angel riding the Masthead.
And Land, now long out of view.

What more could an Old Mat lo wish for?
Than to serve as a Tar for the Lord.
So welcome, Old Sailor. Now the tide’s on the ebb.
And it’s an honor to have you aboard.

By Richard John Scarr

a sailor for the lord funeral poem


Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

crossing the bar funeral poem for sailors


Sea Calm

How still, 
How strangely still 
The water is today,
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way

By Langston Hughes


The Old Way

There’s a wondrous Golden Harbour, far beyond the setting sun,
Where a gallant ship may anchor when her fighting days are done,
Free from tempest, rock and battle, toil and tumult safely o’er,
Where the breezes murmur softly and there’s peace for evermore.
They have climbed the last horizon, they are standing in from sea,
And the Pilot makes the Haven where a ship is glad to be:
Comes at last the glorious greeting, strangely new and ages old,
See the sober grey is shining like the Tudor green and gold !

And the waiting jibs are hoisted, in the old way,
As the guns begin to thunder down the line;
Hear the silver trumpets calling, in the old way !
Over all the silken pennons float and shine.
” Did you voyage all unspoken, small and lonely ?
Or with fame, the happy fortune of the few ?
So you win the Golden Harbour, in the old way,
There’s the old sea welcome waiting there for you.”

By Captain Ronald A. Hopwood, R.N.


Sea Fever

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
And the wheels kick and the winds song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

I must go down to the sea again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whales way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trips over.

By John Masefield

sea fever poem for sailors funeral


Just a Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today)

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in
And the deeds that he had done.
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, everyone.

For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the Sailor’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles,
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor,
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage,
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline,
In the paper that might say:

“Our country is in mourning, for a sailor died today”

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

Originally written for a soldier but changed to fit a sailor


What is Dying?

I am standing on the sea shore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object
of beauty and I stand
and watch her until at last she
fades on the horizon.

Then someone at my side says
“There she has gone” –
gone where?
Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in the mast,
hull and spars as she was
when she left my side. The
diminished size and total loss
of sight is in me and not in her,
and just at that moment when
someone by my side says
“She’s gone” others on a distant
shore take up
the glad shout –
“There she comes!”

By Bishop Brent

what is dying funeral poem for sailors


The Full Sea Rolls and Thunders

The full sea rolls and thunders
In glory and in glee.
O, bury me not in the senseless earth
But in the living sea!

Ay, bury me where it surges
A thousand miles from shore
And in its brotherly unrest
I’ll range for evermore.

By William Ernest Henley

the full sea rolls and thunders funeral poem for sailors


O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

By Walt Whitman


A Sailor’s Dream

With close eyes
I clear my mind
I sit by the seashore
The fragrant salt in the wind
I inhale
As it gently blows ashore.

Seagull silently soar above
Riding thermals
In the heat of a clear day
They gracefully dive nearby
Into the beautiful harbor
I have in view.

Ships slowing sail by
I want to cry
Heading a sea
Gliding on mirrored
Glass waters
Horizon bound
Where a twilight mist awaits

Mysterious is her
Who swallows my dreams
Of old Sailor’s tale
Within huge storms brewing
Ships are battling to sail.

My eyes open
My heart is broken
They disappear before me
Within the sea
I see them no more.

Passions fade within
My heart
From her I am kept apart
No longer will she spray
Her mist upon my face.

In silence they stand
Honoring me
Whose bones lays upon
A slab of timber
Crudely wrapped
In sack cloth
Covered by a Jolly Roger.

A slant towards the horizon
Sends me eternally
Into the bosom of her embrace
There I shall remain
Till judgment day
When she, the sea
Will give up all her dead.

By William Bonilla


Break, Break, Break

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill:
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

break break break funeral poem



I am sailing, I am sailing,
Home again cross the sea.
I am sailing, stormy waters,
To be near you, to be free.

I am flying, I am flying,
Like a bird cross the sky.
I am flying, passing high clouds,
To be with you, to be free.

Can you hear me, can you hear me
Thro the dark night, far away,
I am dying, forever trying,
To be with you, who can say.

Can you hear me, can you hear me,
Thro the dark night far away.
I am dying, forever trying,
To be with you, who can say.

We are sailing, we are sailing,
Home again cross the sea.
We are sailing stormy waters,
To be near you, to be free.

Oh lord, to be near you, to be free.
Oh lord, to be near you, to be free,
Oh lord.

By Gavin Sutherland


A Time for Prayer

God and Soldiers men adore
In times of war,but not before
When War is over and things are righted
God is forgotton and Soldiers are slighted

By Rudyard Kipling



Less said the better,
The bill unpaid, the dead letter,
No roses at the end
For Smith, my friend.

Last words don’t matter,
And there are none to flatter.
Words will not fill the post
Of Smith, the ghost.

For Smith, our brother,
Only son of loving mother,
The ocean lifted, stirred,
Leaving no word.

By John Pudney


A Hero’s Welcome

Time to come home dear brother
Your tour of duty through
You’ve given as much as anyone
Could be expected to do

Just a few steps further
The smoke will start to clear
Others here will guide you
You have no need of fear

You have not failed your brothers
You clearly gave it all
And through your selfless actions
Others will hear the call

So take your place of honor
Among those who have gone before
And know you will be remembered
For now and evermore

By Robert Longley


Parable of Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
“There she goes!”
Gone where?
Gone from my sight… that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
“There she goes!”
there are other eyes watching her coming…
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout…
“Here she comes!”

By Henry Van Dyke


Safe Harbor

The storm has been raging for so long now
Pouring rain, crashing thunder, howling wind
Beating down on this lonely ship
Searching for a place to call home

There was a time; it seems so long ago
The sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky
Looking up from the bow into forever
A gentle breeze, cotton candy clouds

But the storm slowly moved in
A few scattered showers and thunderstorms
Days of downpour, flashes of lightning
With shelter so hard to find

Rainbows still shone, beacons of hope
In the unlikeliest places
Vibrant against a backdrop of gray
A glimpse at the best of times

As the years passed by
The storms changed, getting worse
Getting better, and fading away
But they’d left their mark

A vessel is forever changed
When touched that way
And although you can rebuild
The damage has been done

Horrible storms had been forecast
For the not so distant future
But they wouldn’t hit this ship
Not again, no more damage would be done

The ship will be protected now
Lost no more, tossed about no longer
Safe in a harbor to forever call home

By Jennifer Hickok


Some Time at Eve

Some time at eve when the tide is low,
I shall slip my mooring and sail away,
With no response to the friendly hail
Of kindred craft in the busy bay.
In the silent hush of the twilight pale,
When the night stoops down to embrace the day,
And the voices call in the waters’ flow
Some time at eve when the tide is low,
I shall slip my mooring and sail away.

Through the purpling shadows that darkly trail
O’er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea,
I shall fare me away, with a dip of sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To the Mystic Isles where at anchor lay
The crafts of those who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay;
Some friendly barks that were anchored near,
Some loving souls that my heart held dear,
In silent sorrow will drop a tear
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In moorings sheltered from storm or gale,
And greeted the friends who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

By Elizabeth Clark Hardy


Hymn to the Sea

Always, always the encircling sea,
eternal: lazy lapping, crisscrossed with stillness;
Or wind ruffed, aglitter with gold…
Her lullaby, her singing, her moaning; on sand,
On shingle, on breakwater, and on rock;
By sunlight, starlight, moonlight, darkness:
I must always be remembering the sea.”

Frank Collymore


The Wind Blew Shrill And Smart…

The wind blew shrill and smart,
And the wind awoke my heart
Again to go a-sailing o’er the sea,
To hear the cordage moan
And the straining timbers groan,
And to see the flying pennon lie a-lee.

O sailor of the fleet,
It is time to stir the feet!
It’s time to man the dingy and to row!
It’s lay your hand in mine
And it’s empty down the wine,
And it’s drain a health to death before we go!

To death, my lads, we sail;
And it’s death that blows the gale
And death that holds the tiller as we ride.
For he’s the king of all
In the tempest and the squall,
And the ruler of the Ocean wild and wide!

By Robert Louis Stevenson

the wind blew shrill and smart sad poem


A Life on the Ocean Wave

A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep!
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh! give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest’s roar!

Once more on the deck I stand
Of my own swift-gliding craft:
Set sail! farewell to the land!
The gale follows fair abaft.
We shoot through the sparkling foam
Like an ocean-bird set free; –
Like the ocean-bird, our home
We’ll find far out on the sea.

The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We’ll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!

By Epes Sargent



Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill

By Robert Louis Stevenson


The Ship of Life

Along the shore I spy a ship
As she sets out to sea;
She spreads her sails and sniffs the breeze
And slips away from me.
I watch her fading image shrink,
As she moves on and on,
Until at last she’s but a speck,
Then someone says, “She’s gone.”
Gone where? Gone only from our sight
And from our farewell cries;
That ship will somewhere reappear
To other eager eyes.
Beyond the dim horizon’s rim
Resound the welcome drums,
And while we’re crying, “There she goes!”
They’re shouting, “Here she comes!”
We’re built to cruise for but a while
Upon this trackless sea
Until one day we sail away
Into infinity.

By John T. Baker

the ship of life poem for sailors


There are of course many more poems that would be fitting for navy or seamen.

But we hope our choices of funeral poems for sailors will have helped you find the perfect reading for a friend or loved ones funeral.

funeral poems for sailors

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