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The Grave

Translated from anonymous late Old English.


Before being born your homestead was built.
Before leaving the womb your soil was set,
but it was unready and its depth unreckoned
and no thought was given to what length would be good.
Now you are brought where you must be;
I must now measure the dirt and you.
Your home is not built to be that high,
just level and low as you lie within.
End-walls are small, sidewalls not tall.
The roof is built right on your chest,
so you will stay down in such cold ground,
so dim and dark with its cloying dankness.
That hut is doorless and dark within;
you are caged and Death keeps the key.
Your den is grubby and grim for dwelling.
You stay there as worms pick you apart.
You lie like this and leave your friends.
You lose any friend who likes to visit,
who checks your hut to see if it suits you,
who stays on duty to open your door
and then let in some light—
for you soon will be loathed and loathsome to see.