Spoils of the Dead

about death;
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.