Spoils of the Dead


    TWO fairies it was
    On a still summer day
    Came forth in the woods
    With the flowers to play.
    The flowers they plucked
    They cast on the ground
    For others, and those
    For still others they found.
    Flower-guided it was
    That they came as they ran
    On something that lay
    In the shape of a man.
    The snow must have made
    The feathery bed
    When this one fell
    On the sleep of the dead.
    But the snow was gone
    A long time ago,
    And the body he wore
    Nigh gone with the snow.
    The fairies drew near
    And keenly espied
    A ring on his hand
    And a chain at his side.
    They knelt in the leaves
    And eerily played
    With the glittering things,
    And were not afraid.
    And when they went home
    To hide in their burrow,
    They took them along
    To play with to-morrow.
    When you came on death,
    Did you not come flower-guided
    Like the elves in the wood?
    I remember that I did.
    But I recognised death
    With sorrow and dread,
    And I hated and hate
    The spoils of the dead.


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