THE MAN ON HIS GRAVE

I spoke to a man
Ghastly and ghostly;
He was bones mostly –
Beyond his life span.

He lay on his grave
His ear 'gainst the earth
He exclaimed with mirth –
"They took what they gave."

"Enigmatic ghost,"
I said, stepping near,
"What caresses your ear?
In what are you engrossed?"

– "In voices of stones;
What hear you, mortal?"
– "Satan's hungry hounds
Howling for your bones."

He said: "Oh no,
This' just an old crow
Cawing in the snow
Covering my grave."

– "A snake is gliding
Towards your tombstone,
Searching for a bone;
Go into hiding!"

He said: "Oh no,
This' just an old worm
Who fancies a squirm
Across my grave."

– "Pebbles are falling:
Stray not in this world
Hades has unfurled:
Hades is calling."

He said: "Oh no,
It's only the rain
Pattering in vain
Upon my grave."

– "Now I clearly hear
The stamping of feet
In this sickly sleet;
Praising death, I fear."

He said: "Oh, aye,
That is my friend,
Celebrating – fie! –
My untimely end –
By dancing on my grave."

He rose solemnly,
Ghastly and ghostly;
He bowed in farewell
And departed–
For heaven or for hell,
I cannot tell.