Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep (Requiem) is available as a free download. The lyrics are attributed to Baltimore housewife Mary Elizabeth Frye, who in 1932 was inspired to write the poem whilst being visited by a young German Jewish friend Margaret Schwarzkopf. Schwarzkopf felt unable to travel home to visit her dying mother because of the rise of anti-Semitism, and on her mother’s death remarked that she had been denied the chance to “stand by her mother’s grave and shed a tear”. That comment provided the catalyst for the poem that has comforted and touched many people over the years, especially at times of loss.
For many years the poem’s origins were unknown, being variously attributed to traditional folklore and Navaho Indian prayers. More recently, it was thought to have been written by Steven Cummins, a British soldier killed on active service in Northern Ireland, who left the poem in an envelope addressed to his parents to be opened in the event of his death. The BBC programme The Bookworm, featured it in a piece on war poetry and, some thirty thousand people requested copies. In 1998 “Dear Abby”, the syndicated American newspaper column, finally traced the origins to Mary Elizabeth Frye.
Shaz OYE has composed and arranged a piece of music to accompany these profound yet simple lyrics. Shaz said, “2005 has been a year when we were repeatedly reminded of where prejudice and intolerance of each other’s differences leads us. We have witnessed the passing of Rosa Parks, civil rights activist, Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi-hunter, and Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, I hope people will continue to be inspired by their courage and compassion, and defend their legacy. In the words of Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."