A Burial

© By Seamus Deane

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The broken sods, a whipped flag,
The broad river beyond. Gunfire
The young graves blotted all over.

Angels of morning light dance
On the silver needles of the estuary.
The helicopter prowls, a dragonfly
Popping its shuttered eyes.

Here we have a pause before rain,
And the clatter of clay
Feet on the porch of heaven.

In the stripped rain we wonder
What is going on here.
The cloudburst seems elegy enough.
Drooked shadows raise

White cellophaned flowers
In the darkened air.
Others kneel one-kneed

On a handkerchief. Cars
Glisten. Cameras at full exposure
Click. Zeiss and Leica
Whirr like crickets. Someone folds

A pistol in waterproof.
He is about to start his dry life,
This one, under the earth roof,

Tunnelling to his companions
In the honeycomb below
That weakens, with its intricacy,
The earth we hide in now.

© Seamus Deane, A Burial, 1983, complete text, History Lessons, 1983, The Gallery Press.

The poem describes an IRA funeral with the flags and the guns, apparently being prepared for a salute, and the media attention. These were often contentious events because of the public paramilitary participation in them.

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