Wednesday 20 March 2019

Burial at Sea

From his room to the deck they brought him drest —
For his funeral rites, at his own request,
With his boots and stock and garments on,
And not but the breathing spirit gone,
For he wished a child might come and lay.
An unstained hand upon his clay.

Then they wrapped his corse in the tarry sheet,
To the dead as Arabia's spices sweet,
And prepared him to seek the depths below,
Where waves never beat nor tempest blow
No steeds with their nodding plumes where here,
No sabled hearse and no coffin or bier,

To bear with parade and pomp away
The dead to sleep with his kindred clay.
But the little group, a silent few,
His companions mixed with the hardy crew
Stood thoughtful around till a prayer was said
O’er the corse of the deaf unconscious dead.

They bore his remains to the vessel’s side,
And committed them safe to the dark blue tide,
One sullen plunge — and the scene is o'er,
The sea rolled as it rolled before.

Poem from the Ulster General Advertiser, 15 November 1842.
Image:  The Burial at Sea by: Sir Frank William Brangwyn

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