Ballad of the Hanged

Brother men, who after us survive,
think not of us with bitter heart and hard.
To those who keep some charity alive,
God sooner turns his merciful regard.
You see out bodies strung across the yard –
the flesh, that we would nourish to excess,
is no more than an eaten rotten mess.
In dust and powder these fine bones will sprawl.
Do not despise us in our wretchedness,
but pray to God to free us – free us all!

And if we call you brothers, don’t connive
against us, giving us a name that’s tarred –
though it was proper justice killed us five.
(It is with our own actions we are scarred.)
But intercede for us, who were ill-starred,
with Virgin Mary’s son. His holiness
may not avoid us. Jesus yet may bless.
Before his arm the hellish lightnings pall.
Let no malicious soul our death oppress,
but pray to God to free us – free us all!

Our bodies know too well the rain’s hard drive,
sun’s drying and blackening. Our skulls are jarred
by birds that take our eyes. Yet more arrive
to rip at beards and eyebrows. We have sparred
life-long with fate – and now we have no guard.
We are tied to Nature’s dance, to her duresse –
to the wind’s buffeting, the wind’s caress –
more struck by birds than tailor’s fingerstall.
Think not to join us here in our distress,
but pray to God to free us – free us all!

Prince Jesus, lord of all, greater and less,
save us from Hell’s dominion – O express
your mercy. Grant our spirits their recall.
Sirs, no word here is meant in idleness…
but pray to God to free us – free us all!

Share away: