“A Lyke-Wake Dirge” Summary


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A Lyke-Wake Dirge


This dirge to be sung during the wake connects the charity or lack of charity of the deceased with the fate of that person’s soul in an otherworld which is only partly Christian, although a prayer is addressed to Christ in the second refrain line of each stanza. The two otherworld landscapes of Whinny-muir and Purgatory are described as connected by the Brigg of Dread which the soul has to cross. Giving shoes and stockings to the poor ensures that the person after death will have shoes and stockings to wear as protection against the thorns of the whins (gorse) when crossing the moor which otherwise would have to be traversed barefoot.  Similarly giving meat and drink to the poor will protect the soul from suffering in the afterlife.