A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,laid out by the mast, amidships,the great ring-giver. Far fetched treasureswere piled upon him, and precious gear.I have never heard before of a ship so well furbishedwith battle tackle, bladed weaponsand coats of mail. The massed treasurewas loaded on top of him: it would travel faron out into the ocean's sway.They decked his body no less bountifullywith offerings than those first ones didwho cast him away when he was a childand launched him alone over the waves.And they set a gold standard uphigh above his head and let him driftto wind and tide, bewailing himand mourning their loss. No man can tell,no wise man in hall or weathered veteranknows for certain who salvaged that load.
THE BARROW In this high field strewn with stones I walk by a green mound, Its edges sheared by the plough. Crumbs of animal bone Lie smashed and scattered round Under the clover leaves And slivers of flint seem to grow Like white leaves among green. In the wind, the chestnut heaves Where a man's grave has been. Whatever the barrow held Once, has been taken away: A hollow of nettles and dock Lies at the centre, filled With rain from a sky so grey It reflects nothing at all. I poke in the crumbled rock For something they left behind But after that funeral There is nothing at all to find. On the map in front of me The gothic letters pick out Dozens of tombs like this, Breached, plundered, left empty, No fragments littered about Of a dead and buried race In the margins of histories. No fragments: these splintered bones Construct no human face, These stones are simply stones. In museums their urns lie Behind glass, and their shaped flints Are labelled like butterflies. All that they did was die, And all that has happened since Means nothing to this place.Above long clouds, the skiesTurn to a brilliant redAnd show in the water's faceOne living, and not these dead." — Anthony Thwaite, from The Owl In The Tree
Pa said, "Won't you say a few words? Ain't none of our folks ever been buried without a few words." Connie led Rose of Sharon to the graveside, she reluctant. "You got to," Connie said. "It ain't decent not to. It'll jus' be a little. The firelight fell on the grouped people, showing their faces and their eyes, dwindling on their dark clothes.All the hats were off now. The light danced, jerking over the people. Casy said, It'll be a short one." He bowed his head, and the others followed his lead. Casy said solemnly, "This here ol' man jus' lived a life an' just died out of it. I don't know whether he was good or bad, but that don't matter much. He was alive, an' that's what matters. An' now his dead, an' that don't matter. Heard a fella tell a poem one time, an' he says 'All that lives is holy.' Got to thinkin', an' purty soon it means more than the words says. An' I woundn' pray for a ol' fella that's dead. He's awright. He got a job to do, but it's all laid out for'im an' there's on'y one way to do it. But us, we got a job to do, an' they's a thousan' ways, an' we don' know which one to take. An' if I was to pray, it'd be for the folks that don' know which way to turn. Grampa here, he got the easy straight. An' now cover 'im up and let'im get to his work." He raised his head.