The Clasped Skeleton

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 Abelard
Gained tender Heloise' 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!
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