Post Series: Poems with Explanations: The burial of Sarah

In the cold ground the form did lay,
so still and calm as snow did fall,
and there one said some words that night,

          as stars did shine above so bright.

And words did roam to find a place,
and one was said that fit the sight,

          as stars did shine above so bright.

And in the cold as darkness came,
some tears did fall for one now known,
and there one stood and felt the plight,

          as stars did shine above so bright.


This poem is about the burial of a homeless woman.  The woman died of illness, and a homeless man, who was near her when she died, is burying her.

In the first stanza, the woman is in the ground before she is covered with dirt.  It is quiet and cold and snow is falling.  By the grave, a man is standing and saying some type of words.  It is night.  There is a refrain after this that mentions the stars in the sky above.

In the stanza after the refrain, the man standing by the grave saying some words, finds a problem.  He does not know the name of the woman he is burying.  He wants to say her name with his words.  As he searches for a name in his mind, he looks at her in the grave, and decides that Sarah fits the way she looks.  He names her this as he says more words.  After this, there is a refrain about the stars in the sky.

After the second refrain, the next stanza starts with the man pushing dirt onto Sarah.  He starts to cry.  He did not know Sarah, but since he has named her, he feels a connection to her and feels a sadness at her death.  He feels a pain at the circumstances that caused Sarah to die the way she did and led to her having to be buried in a field by someone she didn’t know.  After this is a refrain about the stars in the sky above.

This poem is about one person burying another person whom they don’t know.  In the process, they find it necessary to give the person they are burying a name.

This poem uses the experimental poetry form Refrains, that was posted on this blog on July 22, 2016.  The description of the form can be read from the post.

In this poem, there is a certain ambiguity.  What is happening in the scene is referred to in a poetic way, rather than directly (with the exception of the title).  This reflects the situation of the man in the poem.  He is burying someone he does not know.  He decides it is right to give this person a name.  He didn’t feel a person should be buried nameless.  The man is expressing a feeling, emotion and idea, but there is a struggle to it.  This is reflected in the style of the poem.

In the poem, each of the stanzas has a somewhat depressing quality.  Even without knowing what the poem is about, the quality should come through.  The refrains though, are the opposite.  The first stanza, for example, mentions cold ground, a form laying in it, and night.  The refrain then mentions shining bright stars.  This contrast was reflective of the situation.

The poem shows a depressing scene: a homeless woman died outside in the cold night because of illness.  She was alone except for a nearby man who didn’t know her.  There was no one to help her and no one to bury her properly.

Despite this though, there is a goodness in the poem: the man.  The man couldn’t help Sarah before she died, but he did what he could afterwards.  He buries her, says some words that he feels will be respectful of her life and do something for her, and he gives her a name.  The actions of this man are reflected in the bright shining stars.


Do you like poems with explanations?

M. Sakran’s self-published book of poems with explanations called Understanding: poems with explanations is available for purchase as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. Buy your copy today!

To help celebrate the self-publication of this book, there is a post series of poems with explanations on the blog.  Above is a poem with an explanation for the series.  This poem with an explanation (as well as the rest in the series) is not from the book.  It is a different one that is part of this post series for readers to read and enjoy.