John Crowe Ransom

(30 April 1888 - 3 July 1974 / Pulaski Tennessee)

Necrological


The friar had said his paternosters duly
And scourged his limbs, and afterwards would have slept;
But with much riddling his head became unruly,
He arose, from the quiet monastery he crept.

Dawn lightened the place where the battle had been won.
The people were dead -- it is easy he thought to die --
These dead remained, but the living were all gone,
Gone with the wailing trumps of victory.

The dead men wore no raiment against the air,
Bartholomew's men had spoiled them where they fell;
In defeat the heroes' bodies were whitely bare,
The field was white like meads of asphodel.

Not all were white; some gory and fabulous
Whom the sword had pierced and then the grey wolf eaten;
But the brother reasoned that heroes' flesh was thus.
Flesh fails, and the postured bones lie weather-beaten.

The lords of chivalry lay prone and shattered.
The gentle and the bodyguard of yeomen;
Bartholomew's stroke went home -- but little it mattered,
Bartholomew went to be stricken of other foemen.

Beneath the blue ogive of the firmament
Was a dead warrior, clutching whose mighty knees
Was a leman, who with her flame had warmed his tent,
For him enduring all men's pleasantries.

Close by the sable stream that purged the plain
Lay the white stallion and his rider thrown,
The great beast had spilled there his little brain,
And the little groin of the knight was spilled by a stone.

The youth possessed him then of a crooked blade
Deep in the belly of a lugubrious wight;
He fingered it well, and it was cunningly made;
But strange apparatus was if for a Carmelite.

Then he sat upon a hill and bowed his head
As under a riddle, and in deep surmise
So still that he likened himself unto those dead
Whom the kites of Heaven solicited with sweet cries.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Necrological by John Crowe Ransom )

  • Freshman - 816 Points Leslie Philibert (8/2/2014 5:19:00 AM)

    Readers of this might like my work too. I have had work published in magazines in the US, and on a lot of internet
    sites... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jeryn Bean (8/3/2013 12:12:00 AM)

    I write poems from the heart, so they're not silly or anything like that. they are deep, And somber. If you like them or rate them, its up to you. All i ask is that you give them a chance. Please check out my poems. And let me know what you think if you want. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,842 Points Babatunde Aremu (8/2/2013 4:53:00 AM)

    Wonderful write by the sage! I like it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Padmaja Iyengar (8/2/2013 2:19:00 AM)

    A superbly constructed necropolis with great wordplay! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 278 Points Jack Growden (8/2/2013 1:35:00 AM)

    PLEASE READ MY COLLECTION! ! I am a young, aspiring poet. Feel free to rate and comment on my pieces. Thanks, Jack Growden (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 127 Points Allemagne Roßmann (8/2/2012 6:46:00 AM)

    Absolute necropolis established with the cemetary of words (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »

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