"Archaeologists with the University of Leicester uncovered remains of two skeletons holding hands believed to have been resting that way for at least 700 years." More on this bit of loveliness here.
I’m sharing this because I’ve embarked on a slightly odd personal project, to memorize one long poem a week (long story short: I’m getting older and I worry about Alzheimer’s). My favorite so far is a wonderfully delicate piece by the least delicate of poets, touching exactly this curiously tender pair of skeletons. Enjoy!
Philip Larkin - An Arundel Tomb
Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits faintly shown
As jointed armor, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd-
The little dogs under their feet.
Such plainness of the near-baroque
Hardly involves the eye; until
It meets the left-hand gauntlet; still
Clasped empty in the other, and
One sees, wIth a sharp, tender shock
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.
They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends could see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.
They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they
Persisted. linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass; a bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,
Washing at their identities.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age; a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history
Only an attitude remains:
Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Their almost instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.