Once again, death rejoices a new grave,
a soiled-over body, a buried soul;
welcomes The Dead (Le Mort) to Hades’ cave;
adds a fresh bag of bones to its countless toll.
The spoils of victory entombed, encased
in a casket of clay, in wet mud drenched,
dispirited, disposed of, laid to waste,
laid to rest in pieces; so long entrenched.
‘So Long’ farewelled, given back; dust to dust…
But listen, through the dirge, the Angels sing.
‘Hark’ the Angels sing (as so the Angels must)
“Where, Oh Death, is your victory, your sting?”
. Through nothingness Death must surrender all,
. beyond nothingness – Eternity’s call.
© Tim Grace, 22 March 2013
To the reader: He was 94 at death. An Uncle. An only son. An alcoholic… a troubled soul… a widower with children… a mechanic… a reformed alcoholic… a preacher; a man who found redemption. At life’s end, a man who had travelled a long and arduous journey of self-discovery. An adored father… a revered brother… a soul at rest; freed of Death’s sting, for “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26).
To the poet: This sonnet is a layered interpretation of one man’s passage through, and beyond, the doors of death towards eternal peace. To begin with, words rattle with visual references, “but listen” (at line 10) calls upon a new register of interpretation: “Hark the Angels sing”. The dismissal of Death as an ending in itself (1 Corinthians 15:55) takes the sting out of life’s terminal destination. At Death we join the countless dead and become at last united with one collective spirit… so the story goes.