‘Bring us, Lord our God,
at our last awakening,
into the house and gate of heaven…’

John Donne’s prayer speaks of the hope and promise of a life with God that embraces us beyond death as well as during our time on earth. However, people of faith are not exempt from fears, fantasies and speculation, nor from the normal sequence of grief reactions that afflict bereaved human beings.
Poetry, whether or not it is consciously religious, can help.

In this selection of poems and thoughtful commentaries, Janet Morley offers an enriching approach to a subject we might prefer to avoid contemplating – our ordinary mortality.

Here you will find the work of Dylan Thomas, Gillian Clarke, Philip Larkin, U. A. Fanthorpe, Seamus Heaney, Ann Griffiths, Jane Kenyon, Anne Stevenson, A. K. Ramanujan, Richard Baxter, George Herbert, Roger McGough and many more.

Ranging in tone from joyful and ecstatic to gentle, ironic, despairing and even hilarious, these writers help us to look at death, accompany the dying, celebrate those who have died, and articulate our hope about what lies beyond. As a result, we have an opportunity to experience the whole range of human emotions about what it means to live, to love and to be loved.


Janet Morley is a freelance writer, speaker and workshop leader. Shehas worked for Christian Aid and for the Methodist Church, and is the author of several books of prayers and poems, including All Desires KnownBread of TomorrowThe Heart’s Time and Haphazard by Starlight, all published by SPCK.