The Fairy Funeral

Footpath to St Mary's Church, Penwortham

The green hill on the water watching broods
rolling hidden songs on a tongue of stone.
With the piercing stars and ascending moon
keeps conversations heaped in earth and bones
amidst the tilting shadows of the tombs.
Midnight’s toll rings the brightness of midday
rearing spectral shapes with a sombre tone.
Draped in glamorous grace a fairy race
with loyalty tend the buried magic of the grave.

A doctor and apprentice walking home
are stricken by the chime of passing bells.
Twenty six they count the ominous sum.
“He’s thy age, Robin,” Adam quietly tells.
They halt beholden by the faery spell.
In raiment dark, bright cap quixotic red
a dainty leader chanting dole impels
in pairs a cavalcade of little men
echoing a mournful fairy requiem.

On slender shoulders six bear a coffin,
lid drawn back to reveal a minute corpse.
Adam gasps “it’s the picture of thee, Robin.”
On his dead little double Robin gawps
seeing his visage dew drenched and dismal,
ghastly with pallor, his limbs stiff and cold.
Into the graveyard marches the funeral
halting beside a large hole in the ground.
Robin screams “I’m dead! And they’re burying me now!”

Whirled by terror, he rushes to the abyss,
hands clasped together, the fairies entreats
“Please tell me how long I have got to live.”
Darkening, chanting swaying sorrowfully
they maintain the fatal ceremony.
As death claws his back, with a desperate hand
Robin reaches for the ruling fairy.
The vision, evanishing from the land
leaves a twisted grey storm and a harrowed man.

Through the endless storm of grey Robin roves,
the restless warning plucking on his bones
deprived of peace and sleep and cherished home
a toppling haystack ascends alone,
from the summit tips and plummets like stone.
His bedewed corpse on the following morn
Is found, prepared and in a coffin thrown.
By daylight fair and bright as a full moon,
he is laid in his tomb beneath the brooding hill.

Graveyard, St Mary's Church, PenworthamThis poem is based on the story from James Bowker’s Goblin Tales of Lancashire (1878)

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