Dead Men

Our well-beloved dead

I am often accused of preferring dead men to those still living. It may be true. In this season when the veil between the living and the dead is rent in so many places, I especially think of our ghosts. I offer this poem:

Hallowe’en

Will you come back to us, men of our hearts, tonight

In the misty close of the brief October day?

Will you leave the alien graves where you sleep, and steal away

To see the gables and eaves of home grow dark in the evening light?

O men of the manor and moated hall and farm,

Come back tonight, treading softly over the grass;

The dew of the autumn dusk will not betray where you pass;

The watchful dog may stir in his sleep, but he’ll raise no hoarse alarm.

Then you will stand, not strangers, but wishful to look

At the kindly lamplight shed from the open door,

And the fire-lit casement where one, having wept you sore,

Sits dreaming alone with her sorrow, not heeding her open book.

You will come back to us just as the robin sings

Nunc Dimittis from the larch to a sun late set

In purple woodlands; when caught like silver fish in a net

The stars gleam out through the orchard boughs and the church owl flaps his wings.

We have no fear of you, silent shadows, who tread

The leaf-bestrewn paths, the dew-wet lawns. Draw near

To the glowing fire, the empty chair–we shall not fear,

Being but ghosts for the lack of you, ghosts of our well-beloved dead.

by Winifred Letts



2 Responses to Dead Men

  1. The Winifred Letts poem is a very appropriate reminder of so many fallen warriors one hundred and fifty years ago. Thank you Meg, for posting this!

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