The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Parta Quies

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Oldie readers of this blog will know who I mean by Katharine Whitehorn. Journalist (Observer, mostly). Irreverent, no-nonsense, funny, nice. She’s now Saga magazine’s agony aunt.

I’ve just stumbled on the poem she wants to be read at her funeral. It’s by AE Housman and it’s called Parta Quies. I’d not come across it before.

Good-night; ensured release,

Imperishable peace,

Have these for yours,

While sea abides, and land,

And earth’s foundations stand,

And heaven endures.


When earth’s foundations flee,

Nor sky nor land nor sea

At all is found,

Content you, let them burn:

It is not your concern;

Sleep on, sleep sound.


What’s that shuckleuckle sound I hear? Ah, countless celebrants typing it into their funeral poem anthologies.

What music does Katharine Whitehorn want? I don’t know. But this is what she chose when she was on Desert Island Discs. (Note to US readers: this is the highest accolade that can be conferred upon a Brit. Forget lordships and sirdoms and damehoods, an invitation to appear on Desert Island Discs is the one that cuts the mustard.)

Follow Me – John Denver

Chopin’s grand waltz  – Brillante in A flat major, op.34 – Chopin

Je tire ma Révérence – Jean Sablon with Wal-Berg’s Orchestra. Composer Bastia

Part of Sibelius Finlandia

Every Time We Say Goodbye – Ella Fitzgerald

Slow movement of Bach’s Double Violin  Concerto

Slow movement of Mozart’s 3rd Violin Concerto

Impromptu No 4 in F Minor – Schubert

Her favourite: Bach’s Double Violin Concerto

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