It’s fun to be participating from another country. Yesterday, we went to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the architecture and stunning windows were awe-inspiring.
We also got to see the burial spot of James Graham, the first Marquis of Montrose.
We had read about him while learning some of Scotland’s bloody history. On the wrong side of various political and religious lines, Graham was executed in 1661. He was hung, then quartered, and his four limbs were sent to the four corners of Scotland as a warning to others. His head was put on a spike in Edinburgh. The night before his execution, he wrote this:
Let them bestow on ev’ry airth a limb;
Open all my veins, that I may swim
To Thee, my Saviour, in that crimson lake;
Then place my parboil’d head upon a stake,
Scatter my ashes, throw them in the air:
Lord (since Thou know’st where all these atoms are)
I’m hopeful once Thou’lt recollect my dust,
And confident thou’lt raise me with the just.
I love the faith and defiance in these lines. ‘Crimson lake’ and ‘recollect my dust.’ Love those.
Poems about death are certainly many, but their power when the poet actually knows he or she is about to die is incredible. (Let Evening Come, by Jane Kenyon, is a favorite of mine.)
The Poetry Friday roundup is at Big A little a.