Mary Magdalene in Brompton Cemetery


I sit here with this marbled muster of the dead.

What purpose this bedraggled regiment of stone,

Deaf to the soundless trumpet-call to fight

From lips of chipped archangels poised eternally for flight?

Can they join up again, reporting bone to bone,

And come a-marching forth with lively tramp and tread?


One bears the tarnished old insignia ‘Here lies Ted,

Beloved spouse of Jane and ‘Dad’ to Jack and Joan’.

Could but this crumbling brigade undo his plight,

These sculpted platitudes bring back his speech and sight!

Another, creeper-clad and bramble-overgrown,

Says, ‘Jesus lives – he’s risen from the dead!’


But will he share his magic with this troglodytal host?

Will Ted rise with his family to morning tea and toast?

I’ll ask the gardener – he’s new – and certainly no ghost.

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