Gransnet forums


Query re: Funeral Poem

(30 Posts)
Riverdance Tue 14-May-19 23:25:13

Hello, just wondered if any member of the group are familiar with the poem ‘I am standing upon the seashore’ by Henry Van Dyke. My Mum has chosen this poem to be read at her Brother’s funeral in a few days time however, the Minister has said the words ‘she’ need to be replaced with ‘he’. I’m not sure if this is correct as the poem is about a ship and ships are referred to as ‘she’. Can anyone advise me please.

maryeliza54 Tue 14-May-19 23:38:28

I’ve just read it - the Minister is wrong as you say. It’s clear from the very beginning that it’s a ship that is being used allegorically

Namsnanny Tue 14-May-19 23:42:18

I would agree with you. That's how the poem was written and you're right ships are usually referred to as 'she'.
Perhaps the Minister hasn't really read it?
Maybe he just thinks it should be changed to he because its being recited at a mans funeral?

phoenix Tue 14-May-19 23:51:57

Given the circumstances, I would agree with changing the gender to "he".

The poem that was read at the late Queen Mother's funeral was changed to "she".

The important thing is that the listeners can identify with it, so for a mans funeral "he" would be more in keeping.

Bugger the supposed gender of ships, the poem is, as maryeliza54 says, allegorical.

annep1 Tue 14-May-19 23:52:35

I agree with MaryEliza. It's allegorical.
It would be wrong to change it to he.
It wouldn't even sound right.
It's a beautiful poem.

stella1949 Wed 15-May-19 00:42:40

This beautiful poem was read at my Dad's funeral. I'm sure we left the pronoun as "she" since it refers to the ship, not a person.

Eglantine21 Wed 15-May-19 06:28:10

I’m sorry but to change it to “he” just doesn’t work. He is never used for a ship so “he is just as large” sounds really odd.

If it has to be changed even “it” would be better than “he”.

I wouldn’t argue though. Just stand up and read it as it is written. What’s the minister going to do at that point anyway?

annep1 Wed 15-May-19 07:49:04

Eglantine is right. It's not up to the minister. And it shouldn't be changed.

eazybee Wed 15-May-19 08:23:55

The poem should be written as the author intended. It is not the Minister's function to change what someone else has written.
I have noticed a tendency in some clergy to alter some phrases in hymns because they consider them inappropriate for modern beliefs.
I expressed the belief following the Remembrance day service, when parts of well-known hymns had been rewritten, that you do nor rewrite poetry because you dislike the sentiments expressed, but apparently now some clergy feel that they have the right so to do.

Bellanonna Wed 15-May-19 09:11:19

I’ve just read it. It would make no sense to alter the gender and would come across as confusing. I suspect the minister didn’t read it through.

phoenix Wed 15-May-19 09:17:33

Just realised which poem it is, and have changed my mind! Should definitely remain as "she".

Luckygirl Wed 15-May-19 09:24:57

What a truly silly minister! - "she" refers to the ship, not the person.

Gonegirl Wed 15-May-19 10:18:45

Oh that is such a beautiful poem!

Definitely leave the "she". Whether the minister can get her head round it or not.

Gonegirl Wed 15-May-19 10:22:05

The last line - "And that is dying." Says it all. It is about neither a person or a ship.

trisher Wed 15-May-19 11:22:39

I've just read it agree with everyone that 'she' must remain. It's nothing to do with the gender of the person being mourned but about death itself. You would have thought anyone with a religious faith would have recognised that.

Riverdance Wed 15-May-19 13:41:39

Thank you so much for responding to my post, much appreciated.
I have asked the Minister to deliver the poem as the author intended and he is happy to do so. I must admit to being very surprised that he wanted to alter it. This poem and was read out at my Nan’s funeral 20 years ago so we wanted it for her son on Friday.
Thanks again everyone.

Lynnieg Wed 15-May-19 14:14:23

I've passed that beautiful poem on to a friend of mine whose mother is in her last days. She was so moved by it and it gave her a lot of comfort. So thank you for this thread x

annep1 Wed 15-May-19 16:14:20

Yes thank you. It's a lovely poem.

aprilgrace Thu 16-May-19 10:01:43

Don’t get me started on the way the words have changed in some hymns. They’ve lost all their lovely poetry and sometimes don’t even mean what the author intended.

pamdixon Thu 16-May-19 10:43:23

what a beautiful poem - I've just looked it up. So glad to hear the Minister has agreed the poem must be read out as it was written. Hope the funeral goes well

Mapleleaf Thu 16-May-19 10:50:05

I've just read the poem, and I'm glad that the Minister has now agreed to read it as it is written. A beautiful poem, and the meaning is clear.

sarahellenwhitney Thu 16-May-19 12:37:36

I recall that a hymn 'He who would valiant be ' had been requested by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, future events planned in advance, that was to be sung at her funeral.
The funeral service was televised and I cannot recall hearing the words 'He who would' replaced by 'She.'
Somehow I do not believe the 'iron lady' ! would have approved any changes regardless of her being the first lady in UK history to become prime minister.

4allweknow Thu 16-May-19 13:12:03

Would agree with you. With the recent furore in the media though about ships being referred to as 'she' perhaps the PC reference should be 'it'.

sarahellenwhitney Thu 16-May-19 13:17:34

Mapleleaf That the minister was prepared to change, he to she, is a reflection on the age we live. Many of these poems go back years and unless cause offence which we would not chose to have read in the first place then why not leave well alone.?

Missiseff Thu 16-May-19 14:12:31

Couldn't someone in the family, or a friend read it instead of the Minister? My brother-in-law recited it at his wife's funeral recently sad Always more personal that way x