One of my favorite Twitter accounts is the Medieval Death Bot, which tweets out the records of recorded deaths in the Middle Ages. (I mean, how could you not love such a thing?). This week, working on the November Poem a Day challenge (prompt: Shaky or Sturdy), I saw this tweet about someone dying in prison after trespassing. Something struck me about it, and today’s sonnet was the result.
Originally written November 12, 2018
Simon de Depyng, died his rightful death in prison in 1322, confirmed for sums of 20s and 7s for trespassing
O Simon, I can hear the rattling chains,
The lazy march of soldiers making rounds,
The dripping, dripping, dripping when it rains,
The sickly prisoner, shaking on the ground.
O Simon, I can hear your ragged breath,
Your hacking cough, your shivering in the cold.
O Simon, why are you so close to death?
You who were young and handsome and so bold?
O Simon, can you hear the calls to Mass?
The cock is crowing, welcoming the day.
The monks, chanting: “Forgive us this trespass”—
O Simon, who now for your soul will pray?
O Simon, young and sturdy, full of pride:
Did anybody mourn you when you died?