I'm not a real poet . . . but I dabble from time to time. I know real poetry is actually very complex and weaves together many facets of expression. I do favor rhyme, perhaps because I started with lyrics for my own songs.

The title of this poem is a paraphrase of "Grim Reaper". In the poem (iambic tetrameter), the Grim Reaper is the caretaker of a large cemetery.

     The Gard'ner of Death

I oversee the land that grieves;
acres of lawn and fallen leaves,
prolific mounds of mother earth,
pregnant mementos of rebirth.

Manicured, undulating, hills
mask the role terra firma fills,
to swallow mortals in her loam,
their destiny and final home.

And as they slowly decompose,
their longing rests in He who rose
spurning death and burial shrouds
beatific, through parting clouds.

As for me, the gard’ner of death,
I prune old vines and baby’s breath
wielding the very pruning knife
I use to trim the tree of life.

Tags: Gard'ner of Death, Grim Reaper, baby's breath, death, poem, poetry, tree of life

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Replies to This Discussion

Good images. Are some of them Xtian?
Hi Ian,

The third verse touches upon the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the faith that gets its answers in death.
I’m not sure that I know what real v. unreal poetry is, or authentic v. unauthentic, I suppose. I do know that there is effective communication in poetry and ineffective communication, though.

Like you, I favor rhyme, and I am glad to see you use rhyme here. I don’t know all the technical terms for poetry (AA/BB or AB/AB etc schemes and names), but I know what I like by how it sounds to my ears.

I think you did a nice job here, and it is rather concise, so that is good, too. What it dislike about it is the polysyllabic words, such as manicured and undulating, as I don’t think they work as well.

I think some of the best poetry in the world sticks with mono and disyllabic words. Consider that the vast majority of Shakespeare’s sonnets and famous passages utilize very simple words put together in very beautiful arrangements.

To be or not to be, that is the question..

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see…

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, and all your yesterdays light fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle. Life is but a walking shadow.

Oh me, what eyes have love put in my head…

Oh, thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power…

Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now…


What does manicured bring to mind? Neat, tidy, controlled, close-cropped, short, trimmed, etc. Consider one of these words as opposed to manicured. Same for undulating. Example:

Tidy, green, sloping hills…

Neat, well-tended little hills…


Catch my drift?

Also, don't underestimate the power of suggestion. Don't tell us they are manicured, that's kind of boring. Suggest to us they are manicured by describing them. We'll understand that manicured is implied.
Hi Dallas,

I have studied poetry quite a bit, for a dabbler :-). I love poetry, even if I'll never be published. Meter is very important to the flow of poetry. "Iambic" is the grouping of 2 syllables with the second syllable getting the emphasis. "Tetrameter" means there's 4 groupings. Pentameter means there's 5 groupings, etc. So "iambic tetrameter" means there's 8 syllables per line in 4 pairs, of which the second syllable in each pair gets the emphasis.

Actually, it's best to veer slightly from defined meter. Sticking precisely with a defined meter gets sort of sing-song and boring. I preferred, in this case, to keep the tetrameter and vary the iambic.

But these are really basic, mundane, concerns. I don't consciously use Shakespeare's work as a model but I do try to emulate (chiefly) Robert Frost. His work is simultaneously complex and subtle and reads on many levels. I'll never approach a fraction of his genius.
their longing rests in He who rose

Consider instead:

they long to be with He who rose

or

they yearn to be with He who rose
Hi DG.

They're dead. They don't "long" or "yearn" any more. Their longing rests: only death can reward faith; if at all.
Gotcha!

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