The Twa Corbies Ruminate on Death

When the muse visits, I cannot resist. This was inspired by a discussion on an email group after articles appearing in various scientific and general interest magazines questioned what death was and when a human being would be considered officially "dead."

As I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies making a mane:
The tane unto the tither did say,
“Is this knight dead, the day?”

“Is his heart not beat, yon knight?
Or his breath moving, a like?
And naebody kens that he is dead
Fer his cells are still alive they said.”

“They pulled him from yon filthy ditch
He maks nae breath nor doth he twitch
If wi pike oot his heart so red
Will they then sae that he is dead?”

“His sight has long since gang awa’
His flesh begin ta’ smelt o’decay
Ye shall pike oot his grey, grey brain
An’ maybe they will sae, he’s gane."

"Mony a one for him maks mane,
But nane sall say that he is gane:
‘Til his banes they see when they are bare
Fer his cells then, are gane for evermair"