To The Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window

Written in A Moment of Exasperation

1How can you lie so still? All day I watch
2And never a blade of all the green sod moves
3To show where restlessly you toss and turn,
4And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees
5Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;
6I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth
7To take its freedom of the midnight hour.
8Oh, have you no rebellion in your bones?
9The very worms must scorn you where you lie,
10A pallid mouldering acquiescent folk,
11Meek habitants of unresented graves.
12Why are you there in your straight row on row
13Where I must ever see you from my bed
14That in your mere dumb presence iterate
15The text so weary in my ears: "Lie still
16And rest; be patient and lie still and rest."
17I'll not be patient! I will not lie still!
18There is a brown road runs between the pines,
19And further on the purple woodlands lie,
20And still beyond blue mountains lift and loom;
21And I would walk the road and I would be
22Deep in the wooded shade and I would reach
23The windy mountain tops that touch the clouds.
24My eyes may follow but my feet are held.
25Recumbent as you others must I too
26Submit? Be mimic of your movelessness
27With pillow and counterpane for stone and sod?
28And if the many sayings of the wise
29Teach of submission I will not submit
30But with a spirit all unreconciled
31Flash an unquenched defiance to the stars.
32Better it is to walk, to run, to dance,
33Better it is to laugh and leap and sing,
34To know the open skies of dawn and night,
35To move untrammeled down the flaming noon,
36And I will clamour it through weary days
37Keeping the edge of deprivation sharp,
38Nor with the pliant speaking on my lips
39Of resignation, sister to defeat.
40I'll not be patient. I will not lie still.
41And in ironic quietude who is
42The despot of our days and lord of dust
43Needs but, scarce heeding, wait to drop
44Grim casual comment on rebellion's end;
45"Yes, yes . . Wilful and petulant but now
46As dead and quiet as the others are."
47And this each body and ghost of you hath heard
48That in your graves do therefore lie so still.
Publication Notes: 
Verse (Rochester, NY: The Manas Press, 1915): 75-77.
PS 3505 R277 .V47 Robarts Library
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire