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The dead lie in their linen, white as chalk,
Their noses, lips and eyes are sewn tight shut,
But they can look about them well enough.
And smell, and breathe, and, Lord, how they can talk.

Stark midnight in the boneyard, black as pitch,
Hark to their shrill, inconsequential chatter.
What do they say? The meaning doesn’t matter:
A sort of leathery scratchings where they itch.

These parsimonious threnodies of souls
Cast off, cast out, abandoned in their prime,
To dwindle down the corridors of time
Into the shuttering dark, like fading coals.

Alas poor ghosts, on whirring, westering wings,
Too late, too late—it cuts you like a knife—
Tedious in death as tedious in life,
They mourn the lost magnificence of things.

—John Whitworth

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