The Clasped Skeletons
Surmised Date 1800 B.C. (In an Ancient British barrow near the writer’s house) O why did we uncover to view So closely clasped a pair? Your chalky bedclothes over you, This long time here! Ere Paris lay with Helena – The poets’ dearest dear – Ere David bedded Bathsheba You two were bedded here. Aye, even before the beauteous Jael Bade Sisera doff his gear And lie in her tent; then drove the nail, You two lay here. Wicked Aholah, in her youth, Colled loves from far and near Until they slew her without ruth; But you had long colled here. Aspasia lay with Pericles, And Philip’s son found cheer At eves in lying on Thais’ knees While you lay here. Cleopatra with Antony, Resigned to dalliance sheer, Lay, fatuous he, insatiate she, Long after you’d lain here. Pilate by Procula his wife Lay tossing at her tear Of pleading for an innocent life; You tossed not here. Ages before Monk Abélard Gained tender Héloïse’ ear, And loved and lay with her till scarred, Had you lain loving here. So long, beyond chronology, Lovers in death as ’twere, So long in placid dignity Have you lain here! Yet what is length of time? But dream! Once breathed this atmosphere Those fossils near you, met the gleam Of day as you did here; But so far earlier theirs beside Your life-span and career, That they might style of yestertide Your coming here!
Thomas Hardy’s other poems:
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