Dead Man's Brow

As for the first time over Dead Man’s Brow
That snell November day I drove the share,
The coulter struck a stone that checked the plough,
Tilting it upright with the hafts in air.
With arms well-nigh out of their sockets jerked
I tried to drag the handles down, in vain;
Then, stooping, long with breaking back I worked
To free the coulter, till with thews astrain
At length I lifted a huge slab that lay
Lid-fashion on a kist of up-edged stones,
Uncovering to the light and air of day
A huddled skeleton of ash-gray bones.
With knee-joints drawn up to its jowl, it clasped
Its bony arms about its ribs and seemed
To shudder from the icy East that rasped
My living cheek; and as the chill light gleamed
Upon its fleckless teeth of flawless white
The girning skull gaped at me with a groan —
Why have you broken in upon the night?
Why can’t you let a buried man alone?
This thousand year I’ve lain in dreamless rest,
Forgetful of the wind that flicked my blood
And roused the hunting hunger in my breast
To course the fells and ford the frothing flood
‘Of burns that thundered in a Winter spate,
Questing a quarry that forever fled
Beyond the further fell-top, until fate
Tripped me and tumbled me among the dead:
‘And I at last knew peace and slept secure
Within my quiet little house of stones.
Must I another doom of life endure?
Why have you waked the hunger in my bones?’
I dropped the slab, and took the hafts and turned
My team and made back homeward with my plough,
Leaving the hunter to the peace he’d earned
Beneath the windy bent of Dead Man’s Brow.