Gone from my sight

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"Gone From My Sight," also known as the "Parable of Immortality" and "What Is Dying" is a poem (or prose poem) presumably written by the Rev. Luther F. Beecher (1813–1903), cousin of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. At least three publications credit the poem to Luther Beecher in printings shortly after his death in 1904.[1]

However, it is often attributed to Henry Van Dyke, probably due to his name appearing as the author in a widely distributed booklet by Barbara Karnes entitled "Gone from My Sight." This "little blue book"[2] has been in print continuously since 1985 and has sold over twelve million copies.[3] Hospice agencies often distribute it to families of patients nearing the end of life. It is also often read at funerals and memorial services.Transylvanian Dutch: Genealogy and Family History, "Poetry Friday: What is Dying – Luther F Beecher."[4]


I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming;
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“There she comes!”


  1. ^ Northwestern Christian Advocate, July 13, 1904; Religious Telescope, Vol. 70, August 21, 1904; Attica Daily Ledger, October 26, 1904. See also Transylvanian Dutch: Genealogy and Family History, "Poetry Friday: What is Dying – Luther F Beecher."
  2. ^ "Do You Have 'The Little Blue Book' in Your House?". HuffPost. 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  3. ^ "Author". BK Books. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  4. ^ "Poetry Friday: What is Dying – Luther F Beecher". Retrieved 2019-07-24.