Mary Elizabeth Clark Frye

Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Death 15 Sep 2004 (aged 98)
Burial Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Memorial ID 40647533 · View Source
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Poet. Mary Frye received notoriety as an American poet in the 20th century for authoring one single untitled poem about grief. Years later the consoling twelve-line poem was given the title of “Do Not Stand By My Grave.” She authored the poem when she was 28 years old but never told anyone until she was in her nineties. Orphaned at age three years old, she was taken to Baltimore, Maryland to live when she was twelve. Although she never received a formal education, she was bright and read on her own; a 1940 document stated she had a sixth grade education. At the age of 22, she married Claude Mason Frye, who was employed with Bethlehem Steel and later had a clothing store. She was self-employed as a florist growing her own flowers. The couple had a daughter. She became a widow in 1964. In 1998 Abigail Van Buren confirmed after much research that Frye wrote the poem. She wrote other pieces through the years but none had the impact that her first poem had. Her poem was never copyrighted or published by her, but has been altered at times. Sources state that she wrote the poem in 1932 to console Margaret Schwarzkopf, a young Jewish German girl, living at her home. Margaret's mother had died in Germany during the anti-Semitic era of Adolph Hitler. After learning of her mother's illness, Margaret was afraid of being sent to a concentration camp or killed if she returned to Germany to visit her dying mother. Mourning her mother, Margaret stated that she did not get the chance to “stand by her mother's grave to shed a tear.” Hearing that line, Frye wrote the poem on a brown paper bag and shared it with Margaret and others. Over the years, her poem has given comfort in a time of personal grief as well as in a time of national disasters.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: David C
  • Added: 13 Aug 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 40647533
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Elizabeth Clark Frye (13 Nov 1905–15 Sep 2004), Find a Grave Memorial no. 40647533, citing Baltimore Cemetery, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .