I am in California, staying with my mom. Her best friend, whom she has known since childhood and whom I considered my extra mom, is at home in hospice care. The doctors and her family do not expect her to be with us for long.
And so, far from home and my files, grieving with my mom and Marie’s children (who feel like my own cousins) and grandchildren over the final good-byes that are soon to be said, I could not help but think of the Farewell poem to present to you this first Friday of a new month.
What is a Farewell poem? It is a “poem of address,” a poem addressed to someone or something specific. When I taught Language Arts, I shared a poem I’d written on the last day of a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was a farewell to Yellowstone and chronicled all the wonders I had encountered there and would bring back in my heart to remember.
A Farewell poem can be written as a formal ,metered and rhyming poem, a free verse poem, or any other form of poetry you desire. What make it a Farewell poem are two factors:
- It is written as though its audience is the person, place, or thing the author is saying good-bye to.
- It is written as a means of saying good-bye, be it permanently or only for a time to the subject about whom it is written.
As with all poetry, the more specific the incidents included and the more precise the word choice and imagery, the more powerful the finished piece will be.
To prepare to write your poem, think about the subject. Jot down the qualities and memories you want to capture in your good-bye. Rank them in the order you want to present them. You might organize your poem in chronological order, from least to most important, or in clusters of relevant topics.
When you feel you’ve captured what you want to say, write your poem.
Go back over it and revise to highlight what you wish to be highlighted, to pare down what might feel too long-winded, to work in various techniques of poetry, which can be especially helpful in the highlighting process. And of course, don’t forget to do a final check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Share your poems with your writing partners. Identify and praise the strengths in each other’s poems. If your poem is for a person, consider making a nice final copy and giving it to them.
As these days of caring for Marie and her family pass, I feel a Farewell poem welling up inside me. It is not ready to emerge just yet, however I know when it does it will include how much I valued Marie’s loving heart, her eyes that could see the good in everyone, her passion for life, her concern for others, her loyal friendship to my mom, and the blessing and encouragement she has always been to me.
What would you like to capture forever in a farewell?