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Robert Frost (1874–1963). A Boy’s Will. 1915.

25. Spoils of the Dead

TWO fairies it was

On a still summer day

Came forth in the woods

With the flowers to play.

The flowers they plucked

They cast on the ground

For others, and those

For still others they found.

Flower-guided it was

That they came as they ran

On something that lay

In the shape of a man.

The snow must have made

The feathery bed

When this one fell

On the sleep of the dead.

But the snow was gone

A long time ago,

And the body he wore

Nigh gone with the snow.

The fairies drew near

And keenly espied

A ring on his hand

And a chain at his side.

They knelt in the leaves

And eerily played

With the glittering things,

And were not afraid.

And when they went home

To hide in their burrow,

They took them along

To play with to-morrow.

When you came on death,

Did you not come flower-guided

Like the elves in the wood?

I remember that I did.

But I recognised death

With sorrow and dread,

And I hated and hate

The spoils of the dead.