A Sudeley Tomb

Behind the castle and tall hedges
With low green arches cut,
I found the church.
Past the creak of heavy wood and iron,
Old stone, polish and
Centuries of candles, a tomb,
The effigy of yellowing stone,
Prayers carved to ease the journey,
You lie in pious repose.
I learned your name at school:
The last wife and widow of a king,
Though you didn’t long outlast him:
Finally free to marry for love,
You thought yourself happy,
Yet your love was betrayed,
A pawn in the power plays
Of unscrupulous men.
And now, I’m here, another tourist
Come to stare, yet not.
We’re alone here, the coach parties
Prefer the castle to parade in,
Probably know nothing of you,
Of the name I learned at school,
Made real in smooth stone, now, here.
What survives of you,
Sole survivor of the final Henry?
Your name in books and on the lips
Of historians on the telly, and now
On mine as I stand here,
Filled with pity, trying to find
A connection to your dead time.
No mason’s skill,
Though it will outlast us both,
Can lay down more than mere memorial:
That is what survives of you:
Memory made long in mute stone.

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