Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starshine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there; I did not die.

Just imagine an unlettered English housewife penning such a powerful poem, that employs very interesting techniques to such emotional impact on the readers.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

The poem is about a girl who had fled the Holocaust and hears the news of her mother’s death.The mother has to tell her dear daughter not to stand at her grave and weep .The daughter is miles away and there is no way of standing near her grave.

I am not there ; I do not sleep

Here mother is not there in two ways. Firstly she is not there in a static place like the grave nor is she sleeping as we believe the dead do in their graves. She is doing more acts involving movement , such as the winds that blow, the diamond glints that shine on show, the sun on ripened grain etc.  She is not there at a point in space but moves all around. She is no longer a body tied to a single space. She is free to move everywhere. Secondly she is not there, now existentially. When one does not exist ,one does not sleep. Free moving spirits have no sleep.

I am not there ; I do not sleep

The line is so lyrical, so pretty, with the beautiful juxtaposition achieved by combining two negative statements each reinforcing the meaning of the other.I am not there .So I do not sleep. I do not sleep because I am not there. In the first it is about existence. In the second it is about an activity of those who do not exist , that is those who lie in the grave. In the latter sense sleep means lying in a grave.
I am not there; I do not sleep
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.

Here the mother repudiates her livingness and sleep which only the living do. From a body that had defined her existence, she has moved on to the vast spaces of nature , like the winds, snow, grain,rain beyond the definitive walls of a body’s existence.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

The daughter has no locus to stand near mother’s grave and weep because her mother does not sleep in her grave but is now part of nature. She is not there and she did not die. It is only for the ones who die that one stands and weeps. She is now part of nature like the wind, rains, snow and grain, experiencing movement that recognizes no limits of space.

The movement is beautifully conveyed through the use of kinesthetic imagery:

First
I am not there, I do not sleep (Suggesting absence of body, lack of movement, sleep, what I am not)

Then

I am the thousand winds that blow
…the diamond glints on snow
…the sun on ripened grain
…the gentle autumns rain…

(suggesting movement, a sense of motion as against the staticity of sleep and death)