(by Marsden Hartley, 1945)
I held him in my unspeaking hand
after the shot struck him
and saw his eyes close down upon
an emaciated world
I could feel his breath leaving his
his breast sinking slowly as the last
sigh left him
blood of the lamb at Eucharist was
on his shop-worn wings.
I could hear the stop of the wind
in his wings
Sunday morning over the waves--
the ding-dong of them made
flayed, mortician music
none of the mourners were paid
or price exacted.
(p. 202 in Collected Poems)
→ Dead Plover was one of two paintings mentioned in Marsden Hartley's entry in George M. Cohen's American Art Essentials (the other painting being Portrait of a German Officer).
→ George Cohen writes that the Dead Plover "symbolizes [Hartley's] lonely, bitter agonized life" (90).