Monday, February 27, 2012

XXVII: The Crow-clergy

Five crow-clergy in their black vestments
were gathered in the cemetery in solemn assembly
around a few of the upright stones
whose etched words were nearly obliterated
by two centuries of weather-wear.

The sharpest-eyed monsignor among them,
a particularly large and dignified fellow,
took notice of my abrupt arrival
and, after studying me with grave reflection,
began to preach in a loud and rasping voice:

Ah! Ah! Poor mortal there!
Walking abroad in weather fair!
Treading on graves without a care!
Such a pity! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Know you not the morbid truth
that soon in such a grave forsooth,
your frame will dissolve to bone and tooth?
Such a pity! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Like leaves upon the autumn wind,
life hurries soon to its certain end!
But few who die have lived, my friend!
Such a pity! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Eternity awaits each departed leaf
and whether to joy or to bitter grief,
scant good is done in a life so brief!
Such a pity! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Then the homilist and his four companions,
heaving their immense black wings,
ascended from the graveside
together repeating a parting refrain:
Farewell and take heed! Ah! Ah! Ah!

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