I stole this poem from Battlements of Rubies, because it made me cry like a baby.
On the Death of his Wife – Muireadhach Albanach
I parted from my life last night,
A woman’s body sunk in clay:
The tender bosom that I loved
Wrapped in a sheet they took away.
The heavy blossom that had lit
The ancient boughs is tossed and blown;
Hers was the burden of delight
That long had weighed the old tree down.
And I am left alone tonight
And desolate is the world I see,
For lovely was that woman’s weight
That even last night had lain on me.
Weeping I look upon the place
Where she used to rest her head,
For yesterday her body’s length
Reposed upon you too, my bed.
Yesterday that smiling face
Upon one side of you was laid
That could match the hazel bloom
In its dark delicate sweet shade.
Maelva of the shadowy brows
Was the mead-cask at my side;
Fairest of all flowers that grow
Was the beauty that has died.
My body’s self deserts me now,
The half of me that was her own,
Since all I knew of brightness died
Half of me lingers, half is gone.
The face that was like hawthorn bloom
Was my right foot and my right side;
And my right hand and right eye
Were no more mine than hers who died.
Poor is the share of me that’s left
Since half of me died with my wife;
I shudder at the words I speak;
Dear God, that girl was half my life.
And our first look was her first love;
No man had fondled ere I came
The little breasts so small and firm
And the long body like a flame.
For twenty years we shared a home,
Our converse milder with each year;
Eleven children in its time
Did that tall stately body bear.
It was the King of hosts and roads
Who snatched her from me in her prime:
Little she wished to leave alone
The man she loved before her time.
Now King of churches and of bells,
Though never raised to pledge a lie
That woman’s hand – can it be true? –
No more beneath my head will lie.