Spoils of the Dead

about death;
 TWO fairies it was  On a still summer day  Came forth in the woods  With the flowers to play.   The flowers they plucked  They cast on the ground  For others, and those  For still others they found.   Flower-guided it was  That they came as they ran  On something that lay  In the shape of a man.   The snow must have made  The feathery bed  When this one fell  On the sleep of the dead.   But the snow was gone  A long time ago,  And the body he wore  Nigh gone with the snow.   The fairies drew near  And keenly espied  A ring on his hand  And a chain at his side.   They knelt in the leaves  And eerily played  With the glittering things,  And were not afraid.   And when they went home  To hide in their burrow,  They took them along  To play with to-morrow.   When you came on death,  Did you not come flower-guided  Like the elves in the wood?  I remember that I did.   But I recognised death  With sorrow and dread,  And I hated and hate  The spoils of the dead.