Popular short memorial poems include "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost and "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson. Both pieces are landmark works by major American poets.
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost is a chestnut of American literature, and is often quoted as a result of its citation in S.E. Hinton's popular coming of age novel "The Outsiders." Like many Frost works, the poem uses nature as a metaphor. In this case, Frost laments the inevitable passing of youth by suggesting it fades like the seasonal change of green grass. As a memorial poem, this sentiment has brought comfort to many, as it defines death as a universal part of the human experience.
"Because I could not stop for Death," first published in 1862, is one of Emily Dickinson's most famous works. Often studied in high school and college English classes, this poem is an especially poignant memorial because it personifies death as a comforting, courteous driver of a carriage, not a frightening spectre or Grim Reaper type. Dickinson had a sometimes morbid fascination with death, but her matter-of-fact tone and pastoral description of life's passing make "Because I could not stop for Death" a peaceful tribute.