1. Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath Grows large and free in air, don't call it death -- A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire His surly art of imitating life; conspire Against him. Say that my body cannot now Be improved upon; it has no fault to show To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh Has a perfect compliance with the grass Truer than any it could have striven for. You will recognize the earth in me, as before I wished to know it in myself: my earth That has been my care and faithful charge from birth, And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound, And all my hopes. Say that I have found A good solution, and am on my way To the roots. And say I have left my native clay At last, to be a traveler; that too will be so. Traveler to where? Say you don't know.
2. But do not let your ignorance Of my spirit's whereabouts dismay You, or overwhelm your thoughts. Be careful not to say
Anything too final. Whatever Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger Than flesh. Beyond reach of thought Let imagination figure
Your hope. That will be generous To me and to yourselves. Why settle For some know-it-all's despair When the dead may dance to the fiddle
Hereafter, for all anybody knows? And remember that the Heavenly soil Need not be too rich to please One who was happy in Port Royal.
I may be already heading back, A new and better man, toward That town. The thought's unreasonable, But so is life, thank the Lord!
3. So treat me, even dead, As a man who has a place To go, and something to do. Don't muck up my face
With wax and powder and rouge As one would prettify An unalterable fact To give bitterness the lie.
Admit the native earth My body is and will be, Admit its freedom and Its changeability.
Dress me in the clothes I wore in the day's round. Lay me in a wooden box. Put the box in the ground.
4. Beneath this stone a Berry is planted In his home land, as he wanted.
He has come to the gathering of his kin, Among whom some were worthy men,
Farmers mostly, who lived by hand, But one was a cobbler from Ireland,
Another played the eternal fool By riding on a circus mule
To be remembered in grateful laughter Longer than the rest. After
Doing that they had to do They are at ease here. Let all of you
Who yet for pain find force and voice Look on their peace, and rejoice.