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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, September, 1922



Why do you spin a thread so fine?
Grandam, the moon is high,
And I must weave a shroud to-night!
I see a soul go by.

Whose is the passing soul you see?
Grandam, the stars so pale
Look on my son cold in his bed:
His ghost walks in the dale.

Alas! why may his soul not rest?
The moon, the moon is red:
The soul would have its body clad,
I wis, ere night has fled.

An oaken coffin he shall have,
A chaplet for his brow;
And he shall wear his scarlet shoes
And the shroud I'm spinning now.

He cannot wear his scarlet shoes;
They are no longer fair;
A rat has torn and nibbled them,
And dragged them to his lair.

Alas! Alas! it shall not be
That he must go unshod.
We'll knead his shoes of yon white dough
That makes the Bread of God.

A holy man is at the door
Hear how he cries for bread.
Nay, Grandam, let him empty go:
We need it for the dead.

page 37

The boy is laid within his grave
The bread shoes on his feet,
The widow and the grandam old
Have made his winding sheet.

Oh Grandam, what has crossed the stair?
A moon-beam white and chill;
Nay, chiller than the moon's slow beams,
The ghost came sad and still.

Now wherefore should he cling to earth?
He points unto his feet;
And still he wears the shoes of bread,
And else his winding sheet.

Three nights he came all suddenly,
And unawares, I trow;
And they have brought a holy priest
To lay the spirit now.

I charge you tell us why you stand
Upon the winding stair;
And while those hold their breath, do weep,
And smite the frozen air.

I weep, for though my body dies,
My soul clings to the ground;
The shoes you made of God's good bread
My winged feet have bound.

I pray you to the churchyard go,
And, sooth, at vesper hour,
With holy songs and holy words,
Beneath the knelling tower,

Take off the bread shoes from my feet.
(Oh mother! What a day
When you did take the Bread of God
And your dead child array!)

The moon, the moon may walk on high;
The stars he very pale;
Another night the moon be red,
But the winds round your grave shall wail.

She heeded not the grandam's voice,
Nor heard the vesper toll;
The night the son was born to Heaven
The mother lost her soul.

M. E. B.