Will the real poet please stand up?

April 17, 2006

My publishing company, Yelton Rhodes Music, publishes several choral works that use the folowing poem, a poem we all had thought was written by someone called Mary Frye. We knew nothing of her, what her dates were or anything else.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
For I am not there I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am diamond glints of snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn’s rain
When you awake in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds encircled flight
I am the soft star that shines at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there
I did not die

I received the following correspondence from Peter Ramsey who claims to be the ACTUAL poet.

I wrote my original poem about 45 years ago in a moment of reflection… my thoughts today still.
Don’t think I had any one particular person in mind though.
The first line read, “Please don’t stand at my grave and weep.”
Minimal sharing of the poem took place; but at some time, probably within 5 years I changed the first line to read, “Do not stand at my grave and weep.”

I didn’t really think too much about the poem; only pulling it out if I could find it in moments of need, or if I came across it’s hiding place.
It was shared with radio stations in my hometown Adelaide, Australia, who often mailed it out to listeners who wanted it.
I also had access to teledex, fax, etc…
As we entered the computer age, I remember scanning the handwritten poem & also transcribing it.
It also opened up the world via internet etc.. It was widely shared now.
None of my pre Microsoft files remain.
I still have some files from 1990, & several a little later.

About 5 or 6 years ago I came across a webpage suggesting my poem was written by an unknown author about 1940 as a song.
As I have written & shared much of the million pages I have written as a hobby using pseudonym “Perter Ferter” it only made me chuckle.

About a month ago I heard a Katherine Jenkins song.
I decided to investigate Katherine on the internet.
The search page made reference to “Do not stand at my grave and weep.”
Searches of this, & I find 1.4 million references to the poem…. Many of them crediting Mary Frye as author…. All info from one source.

Knowing the facts about the poem, I didn’t know what to do but correct what appears to me to be a fabrication.
Mary Frye claims appear to be without substance…. No one has produced a copy of her poem so widely distributed by her.

If I had been aware in 2000 what was happening, I doubt 1.4 million pages would be assigned to the poem & the lie.

I note that others claim to writing it.. but they are the ones where verses & lines have been changed, added etc.. they are not a problem to me.
It was my intention that the poem has more meaning to comfort if it has unknown or anon author.
I am happy to fwd my longest surviving computer files.. & if I come across the handwritten version a copy of that too.
Like I said… Until recently I didn’t think it very important… I can write it from memory now anyway.

Hope I comfort everyone who loses someone….

I have also found this article at businessballs.com giving a thumbnail bio of Mary Frye with a bit of background stating that SHE actually is the poet in fact Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abbey”) helped identify the “true” author — maybe.

There are a lot of nut cases out there, and Mr Ramsey seemed to be a sober enough chap, but I’m at a loss as to what to do. Any advice?

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