The Burial of the Dead

for Linden Brough

Fear in the figures on a TV-screen,
In the mouths of liars paid to deceive;
Fear in a handful of dust was enough
To bring a fearful nation to its knees.

Though I do not see the world in colour,
In the night I see clearer than you —
Mewed the cat at the gate of the churchyard
As the dusk curled its tail round our view.

But no new names on the steps to this cross
Where truth is burned, scattered ashes grow cold;
The paths of deceit lead not to the grave,
Plot and memorial bought and sold.

Who walks in the week after Christmas knows
Heaven’s not up there in God’s blue sky;
It blows through the leaves of a cedar tree
When a westron wynde wends down the Wye.

Still the priests of plague intone their commands
To the quick and the dead alike:
‘I will keep my mouth as with a bridle
‘While the ungodly is in my sight.’

The black cat purred in the porch of the church —
Inside, a new Dark Age is risen:
Medicine is its faith, fear its doctrine,
Biosecurity its religion.

Death to those who would dam the flow of life
Is an inevitability
We must write in the stream of the present
Now, and not in the dust of history.

— Ross-on-Wye, January 2022


The title is taken from ‘The Order for The Burial of the Dead’, the funeral rites from the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer, which was first published in 1549; but it is also a reference to the opening section of T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, which was published in 1922, the annus mirabilis of English-speaking modernism, whose one-hundredth anniversary falls this year.

Lines 1-2. During the ‘pandemic’ of 2020-2022, the UK Government delivered a daily briefing that was televised to the nation on BBC news and Sky news. Used by Ministers to announce coronavirus-justified regulations before they were presented to Parliament, these briefings included presentations by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies of statistics showing the threat and impact of COVID-19 that were repeatedly proven to be exaggerated and inaccurate.

Line 3. Cf. Eliot, ‘The Burial of the Dead’, l. 30.

Line 9. In the churchyard of St. Mary’s the Virgin, the fourteenth-century parish church in the Hereford town of Ross-on-Wye, is a stone cross erected to the memory of the 315 victims of the plague that reached the town in 1637, and who were buried without coffins and by night in a nearby pit. For two weeks between October and November 2020, the Town Council invited parishioners who knew someone whose death that year had been attributed to COVID-19 to commemorate their loss with a small stone marked with the name of the deceased and placed on the steps at the base of the plague cross.

Line 10. Section 19 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which was made into law on 25 March 2020, empowered a doctor who had not seen the deceased to certify the cause of death as COVID-19 without the body being referred to a coroner for a confirmatory medical certificate before cremation of the remains.

Line 11. Cf. Thomas Gray,‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave’, from his poem Elegy Written in a Country Graveyard, 1751, l. 36.

Line 16. Cf. Anon, Westron Wynde, an early sixteenth-century song whose tune was used as the basis of Renaissance Masses. The River Wye, which flows below and to the west of Ross-on-Wye, rises in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales. In European folklore, the western wind is considered the mildest and most favourable of winds.

Line 17. In December 2021, in the week before Christmas, the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster instructed Christians to be injected with the experimental COVID-19 ‘vaccines’, with the former declaring that compliance was not subject to human rights but a moral issue, and suggested that refusing was a sin. As of 13 July, 2022, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has received nearly 460,000 reports of over 1.5 million adverse reactions and injuries and 2,213 deaths within 7 days of ‘vaccination’.

Line 18. Cf. 2 Timothy 4: 1 in William Tyndale’s 1526 translation of The New Testament; used by Archbishop Thomas Cramner in the first Book of Common Prayer, 1549.

Lines 19-20. Cf. Psalms, 39: 1; quoted in ‘The Order for the Burial of the Dead’ in the official edition of The Book of Common Prayer, which was first published in 1662 and is still used in the Anglican funeral service today.

Line 22. Cf. Matthew, 28: 6. The idea of a Dark Age originated with the early-Renaissance Italian poet, scholar and humanist, Francesco Petrarca, who lamented the loss of the knowledge, art and science of classical antiquity with the rise of Christianity to total domination of the politics, society and culture of Europe.

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