A man that had six mortal wounds, a man
Violent and famous, strode among the dead;
Eyes stared out of the branches and were gone.
Then certain Shrouds that muttered head to head
Came and were gone. He leant upon a tree
As though to meditate on wounds and blood.
A Shroud that seemed to have authority
Among those bird-like things came and let fall
A bundle of linen. Shrouds by two and three
Came creeping up because the man was still;
And thereupon that linen-carrier said:
‘Your life can grow much sweeter if you will
‘Obey our ancient rule and make a shroud.
Mainly because of what we only know
The rattle of those arms makes us afraid.
‘We thread the needles’ eyes and all we do
All must together do.’ That done, the man
Took up the nearest and began to sew.
‘Now must we sing and sing the best we can
But first you must be told our character:
Convicted cowards all by kindred slain
‘Or driven from home and left to die in fear.’
They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,
Though all was done in common as before;
They had changed their throats and had the throats of birds.