Elegy for a Hangman


It’s sad to see that breaking necks is out of fashion: this reflects
  Our taking new technologies to heart.
The practice, in the West at least, has much declined or even ceased.
  Yes, hanging has become a dying art.

I say an art, and so it is: it takes a mathematics whiz
  To gauge a Dead Man Sitting’s weight and height
And how much rope is needed to divide his head and spine. Could you   
  Or I get such a calculation right?

A man who’s practised in the use of gallows and a sturdy noose
  Will do the job with expeditious skill:
In seconds your convicted chap is hooded, strung and through the trap -
  A quick and clean and (almost) painless kill.

You need to put in time and graft to learn this old and subtle craft, 
  With poison gas or needles, not so much.
The chair’s no punitive advance: when villains do the sit-down dance
  They miss the hangman’s artisanal touch.

Rob Stuart

If you have any comments on this poem,  Rob Stuart  would be pleased to hear from you.