She is Gone – A Poem

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back,
or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins, © 1981
Silloth, Cumbria, UK •••

Included by the Queen on the order of service for the Queen Mother’s funeral on Tuesday 9th April 2002, the poem ‘She Is Gone’ was credited to ‘Anon’. Her Majesty was said to have encountered the work at the funeral of the late" Dowager Viscountess De L’Isle, whose family had found the poem in a small anthology published in 1999. After the Queen Mother’s funeral much effort went into attempts to identify the author, with attributions going to, among others Immanuel Kant and Joyce Grenfell, before the author was discovered to be former baker David Harkins from Cumbria. David Harkins had written the piece in the early eighties, though not as a funeral oration, but in homage to an unrequited love.

David Harkins wrote to The Daily Mail on Tuesday January 14th 2003 as follows:- ‘I was 23 when I first met Anne LLoyd, my inspiration for the poem I called Remember Me.
She was 16 and didn’t know me, but had seen her about and knocked on her door one evening in November 1981. Anne answered, and I introduced myself as a painter (painting was a hobby of mine back then) and asked her to pose.
She agreed, and I returned on the Thursday evening, when I made feeble attempts to sketch Anne. This proved difficult as her mother was present throughout.
Anne posed for me about eight times, and we met regularly for a couple of years and talked a great deal, though we never even kissed, which is probably why I poured all my feelings about her into my poetry.
I completed Remember Me in about March 1982, but until last year none of my poems received any recognition. Pam, a one act play from 1987, was my last piece of work inspired by Anne.
Shortly afterwards I met Jayne, my wife, and I have not seen Anne since. My writing has dried up and I’m now a painter selling my works on the internet.’
David Harkins, Silloth, Cumbria. Further Foot Note:

News & Star 12/09/2002 I wrote the Queen Mum’s funeral poem By Chris Musson THE mystery author of a poem which was read out at the Queen Mother’s funeral can now be revealed as a Cumbrian man who wrote it more than 20 years earlier when he was a young bakery worker. The poem was recited at the royal funeral earlier this year and sparked a glut of media interest because of its simple, upbeat nature – and mystery author. The Queen had found the poem while leafing through old memorial service books and she chose it to be read at her mother’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in April, where it struck a chord with millions of mourners. Today the News & Star can reveal that Silloth man David Harkins wrote the poem in 1981 while working at Robertson’s bakery in Durranhill, Carlisle. Mr Harkins, 43, has since received a letter of thanks from the Prince of Wales. The discovery finally ends a nationwide media hunt for the poem’s author. Mr Harkins, who now works as an artist selling paintings over the Internet, said he “couldn’t believe his eyes” when he saw his poetry published in newspapers after the funeral. Shocked He had sent the original manuscript of the poem to Prince Charles, and St James’s Palace replied thanking Mr Harkins for explaining its origin. He said: “I wrote it in 1981. It was about a girl and I called it Remember Me. Since then, it’s been changed to suit different people and also altered slightly for funerals. "I was shocked. I only found out about it at the time of the Queen Mother’s funeral and I couldn’t believe it. My wife Jayne and I were reading the newspapers and there it was. "She said to me something like ‘that’s your poem!’. There were changes but they were just words – a word here and a word there. "So I sent the original copy to Prince Charles in May and got a lovely letter of reply.” The reply from Prince Charles’ then private secretary, Stephen Lamport, thanks Mr Harkins for providing the history of the “passage which captured the hearts of so many people when it was published as part of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service”. At the time the poem was written, he was working at Robertson’s bakery, while living in Scalegate Road, Upperby. Mr Harkins said: “I laugh about it because death is not what it’s about. It wasn’t written for a funeral. I wrote it about a girl I lusted after but she couldn’t stand the sight of me. "It was nothing to do with anyone dying but at the same time, I am humbled by the fact that anyone should use it at a funeral, especially for the Queen Mother. "It was straight from the heart and when I think about it, I’m both proud and not proud. I have sent it to people and they always try to put it into poetry but it isn’t. It was just poetic prose.” It is thought Remember Me – one of many pieces Mr Harkins has sent to publishers and newspapers over the years – found its way onto the Internet and into memorial booklets like the one spotted by the Queen. After the funeral, the poem was subjected to the scrutiny of the national media, with some critics ridiculing its apparent lack of literary merit. The reply from the Prince of Wales’s office continued: “I have no doubt that it will be reproduced on many occasions over the years to come. The Prince of Wales has asked me to send you his very best wishes.” Chris Musson Reporter, The Cumberland News / News & Star An interesting link if you need more information on ‘She is Gone’ and the author

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