Poem: The Vaults of Asterline

The night was bright, the mist was slight,
The bell had just struck one.
The graveyard trees, moaned in the breeze,
The moon, the sky did run.
When o’er the wall, that stood so tall,
Two men were seen to climb.
They looked about, then both set out,
For the Vaults of Asterline.

For ten score year, were buried here,
The nobles of that crest.
But two months past, the very last,
The Duke was laid to rest.
Twas duly said that all the dead,
Were decked with jewelry fine.
A prize of gold, the tomb did hold,
In the vaults of Asterline.

With faces wan, they quickly ran,
Across the holy ground.
Where headstones grey, on dead men lay,
Until the tomb they found.
Before the vault, they both did halt,
And eyed its ancient lines,
For twas their job, they’d come to rob,
The vaults of Asterline.

With crow-bars three, they tried to free,
The slab that marked the door.
An hour had passed, before at last,
It crashed onto the floor.
The tomb within, was black as sin,
And the smell was that of lime.
By lantern light, the thieves caught sight,
Of the vaults of Asterline.

The tombs were laid, in line arrayed,
Each one was made of stone.
The thieves were fast to choose the last,
Their jackets off were thrown.
And the crow-bars crashed, and the mallets smashed,
That stone to powder fine.
Before them lay, in fine array,
The Duke of Asterline.

There was still a trace, of the noble face,
On the flesh so dried and grey.
But a fungus growth, above the throat,
Had the jaw-bone ate away.
There were still some strands, on his folded hands,
Of the skin that served its time.
And the signet ring, gift from the King,
To the Duke of Asterline.

No time to waste, they stole in haste,
The cross and chain of gold.
But the signet ring, to the flesh did cling,
Would not release its hold.
With a woeful curse, the more perverse,
Performed his base design,
With a powerful twist, tore the rotting wrist,
From the Duke of Asterline.

Now to this day, the people say,
They were woke up in their bed,
By the thunder crash, of a lightning flash,
That near awoke the dead.
And ’tis thought by all, both old and small,
That God hath sent this sign,
To show his wrath, at what hath hath,
To the Duke of Asterline.

And deep within, the tomb, the din,
Was heard by both these knaves,
But in their greed, they paid no heed,
As they opened up the graves.
When the rafters groan, ‘neath the roof of stone,
Was final warning sign.
Ere the vault crashed in, on the two within,
The vaults of Asterline.

As daylight broke, the scene bespoke,
The violence of the night.
Beneath the mound, the two were found,
Their deed was brought to light.
The local shame, was turned to fame,
When they rebuilt the shrine.
May the nobles rest, beneath their Crest,
In the vaults of Asterline.

By Robert Perry


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