The works of Shakespeare are a wonderful source of inspiration for funeral readings, if you’re planning a non-religious send-off, are writing a eulogy, or simply seeking some beautiful and poignant verse to express how you feel.
These 10 extracts from Shakespeare's famous plays and sonnets are lovely quotes for funerals and celebrations of life, or touching words to share in an order of service programme.
1. Fear no more the heat o' the sun
This Shakepeare funeral reading comes from the play Cymbeline. It talks about how death can be a release, to a place of peace and safety.
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownéd be thy grave!
2. All that lives must die
A quote from Hamlet that you could include in a funeral eulogy.
Thou know’st ’tis common.
All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
3. If I must die
This is Shakespeare for a funeral that reflects on facing death with courage. The quote comes from the play Measure for Measure.
If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms.
This beautiful reflection upon loving someone with all your heart comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
5. You are my world
This beautiful Shakespeare quote for a funeral is also from a Midsummer Night’s Dream
For you, in my respect, are all the world.
Then how can it be said I am alone
When all the world is here to look on me?
6. Parting is such sweet sorrow
One of the most famous and moving farewells ever written, these words are from Romeo and Juliet and express hope of meeting again.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night, till it be morrow.
7. Let angels fly thee!
This incredibly touching Shakespeare funeral quote is from Hamlet
Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
8. Little lives
This lovely Shakespeare quote for a funeral is from The Tempest and alludes to how quickly life can pass, before we pass on into restful sleep
We are such stuff as dreams are made on
And our little life is rounded with a sleep.
This sonnet reflects on the passing of a life into old age and our legacy when we die. In it, Shakespeare hopes that his words will be remembered long beyond death – just as we’ll have precious memories of our own loved one.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d,
Crooked elipses ’gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
10. All that they were
This Shakespeare funeral quote is from the play As You Like It. It reflects how in our lifetime, we can be many things to many people – a child, a friend, a lover, parent, sibling and so much more.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.