Dead Dialogue

David Park Barnitz

1st Corpse.
I would now that the sweet light of the sun
Might once again shine down upon my face;
So weary am I of my rottenness.

          2nd Corpse.
Rejoice that now at least thou art done with life;
This thing shall nevermore return.

          1st Corpse.
At last
My body is weary of the tomb;
It is a hundred years since in the grave
I have lain down between four narrow walls,
Shut up with putrid darkness and the worm.
There is no flesh upon my body now,
That was so long a-rotting; on my shelf
Here am I now nothing but stinking bones,
That have had life beneath the face of the sun.

          3rd Corpse.
I am not yet utterly putrified,
And the worms yet within my flesh abound;
I do repent me that I did not learn
What life was, while I liv'd beneath the Sun—
At least then I might think of what I haddone;
But I am rotten, and I have not liv'd.

          1st Corpse.
I would that I might leave this place of ordure
And look once more upon the face of the world,
Where the sun is.

          2nd Corpse.
O foolish ragged-bones,
Wouldst thou show forth thy dripping excrements,
And shredded rottenness to the face of day?—
Stink and be still, and leave us here in peace.

          1st Corpse.
Envy me not, O stench, slop-face, dung-eyes;
My bones are clean and dry as the tomb's walls,
And stink not; as for thee, thou art a sink.

          2nd Corpse.
Envy me not, thou, that I am so sweet
The black worms love me; hungry were that worm
That on thee preys.

          4th Corpse.
Be silent, both ye dead and rotten things;
Lo I, that was unburied yesterday,
Am fair and smooth and firm, and almost sweet;
If that I were not dead, one might me love.

          3rd Corpse.
Is it so sweet a thing, this love, this love?

          2nd Corpse.
Thy lips are green for kissing, and streaks of black
Streak over thee where the worms have not yet been!

          4th Corpse.
Ha, ha, I know wherefore thou speakest so:
Because thy torture is too great for thee,
And the worms' gnawing, and thy body's rottenness,
And the rottenness in thy bones and in thy brain!

          1st Corpse.
O beautiful, O dead, O spit upon,
He speaketh well that is but lately dead;
Thy flesh lies all along thee like greenslime,
O pudding gravied in thine own dead sauce!

          2nd Corpse.
Rotten one!

          1st Corpse.

          2nd Corpse.
Dead one!

          1st Corpse.
Beast! beast! beast!
Therefore perhaps, thou art so early dead?

          2nd Corpse.
They say that those thou lovedst were not men,
goat-face— Shall I say what was thy death?

          4th Corpse.
Come, come, my brothers, be not so slanderous;
We have all been the same upon the earth.

          3rd Corpse.
Thou sayest true, new brother,

          1st Corpse.
Thou sayest true.

          2nd Corpse.(Aside.)
I shall not suffer anything any more;
I have left all that; I am evermore releas'd;
1 shall not struggle and suffer any more;
This seemeth strange and very sweet to me;
And I shall grow accustom'd to the worms.

          5th Corpse.
Rejoice not thou, that thou art fallen
Into a pit where people leave their dung;
There is no reason here for any joy.

Be silent, now, ye spindle-shanked dead!
Ye will learn to be silent when y'are here
For a long time; ye always spout and roar,
At first, before the time of rottenness;
But so I suppose it must be,—y' are not the first,
And ye shall not be the last; so fast i' the world,
So eagerly they are begotten, and they die,
And they are begotten again; just for this end
Hideously propagated evermore.

          A Voice above singing.
Golden is the sunlight,
When the daylight closes,
Golden blow the roses
Ere the spring is old;
All thy hair is golden,
Falling long and lowly
Round thy bosom holy;
And thy heart is of fine gold!

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