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What Exactly Does Death Mean

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I saw him playing by a grave,
A boy of nine years old,
A youthful lad with many glad,
And mischievous smiles bold.
“Who are you, my youthful lad,
You with known in grave,
I ask thee for I too had,
Family who Death did claim.”
“Why, sir, I am a cottage boy,
Who dreams to be a knight,
And ride upon a stallion horse,
And for the good King fight.”
“Who be those that now lie,
In this mournful church-yard?
Who is it that you play by,
As if ye were there safeguard?”
“This one is my Uncle Jess,
He was a kind, odd fellow,
And this one was Grandpa John,
Who always said ‘Hello.’
“This one be my own Papa,
Richard was his name,
And this one was my small Mama,
Sally, fair with sickly frame.
“These three are my sisters,
Jane, Jennet, and Rose,
They went away in Winter,
Dying with purple toes.
“This one is my brother,
A boy born just last year,
He died with my mother,
Before he had been reared.
“And finally, (I’m not a liar,)
This one be my twin,
He died in a cottage fire,
And I got burned on skin.”
Much I marveled at his speech,
And much I marveled at his scars,
Much I marveled at his teach,
Much I marveled, so bazaar.
“Then where do you live,
My brave, brave lad,
Where do you live,
And why are you glad?”
“I live here in a pinch!
Here in this old church-yard,
I sleep under this wooden bench,
I’m glad for I live to guard.
“I guard my family’s resting shrine,
And play with them in the sun.
And when it is supper time,
That’s when the playing’s done.
“Many a day I run and play,
Or sing my Mama a song,
Many a day I sit and pray,
That she will sing along.
“And when I eat the piece of bread,
The preacher throws at me,
That’s when I think, ‘They are dead’,
But what exactly does that mean?’”
“They shan’t sing with your tweet,
It means they are departed,
It means that their hearts don’t beat,
And we’re left broken hearted.
“Come with me, my brave lad,
We’ll show the world, you and I,
You with your smiles glad,
And me with watchful eye.”
No thank you, sir, I must say nay,
For my family is not gone,
If here is where they will stay,
Then here’s where I belong.”
And so next day I went away,
To England all alone,
But here by the graves, I do say,
Something to every moan.
“When I eat the piece of bread,
The preacher throws at me,
That’s when I think, ‘They are dead’,
But what exactly does that mean?’”

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