Finnegan (below) didn't know the Egyptian Hieratic myth, where the soul just after death is judged by weighing it in a balance-scales, against a feather. Unless the feather goes down, the crocodile-god gets your soul.
I've been reading stuff for like fifty years and more, and I still get upended by mythical or literary references in poetry. I love them, and I love meeting a new quote or citation; but maybe the poem itself ought to indicate what it's all about, or else maybe it ought to be thought good for the poet to provide a gloss - just as the "description" box can do, in these pages.
The tradition of the literati is that the only people who can read or write are also frightfully clever and know everything, or at least can look it up in their private library. Sheesh. There are people eagerly making and reading literature right here on ES, who can hardly speak English or hardly read it or hardly write it, and they have the same rights as that mythical omniscient Literateur who does not exist nowadays. The right to understand?
I reckon we need a new traditional format for presenting poems. The "annotations" in a scholar's treatment of a poem are a joy to anybody who is trying to get the poem's full value ... explanations are not really dumb ... it's just that obscure references were traditionally used by class elites (the class defined by income and choice of school), to exclude non-members. Like encryption but less democratic! That would, no doubt, be counter-productive in an inclusive community like ES?
There would be dozens of ways to apply that principle ... it 's just a thought that this (beautifully crafted) poem made me have, after I also read Finnegan's comment!
Wow, I definitely have to say that this is probably one of the better pieces on the site right now. It lacks in quantity, but it makes up in quality, that's for sure. The flow that you use in your poem seems to be remarkable and the form is astonishing. Instead of seeing the rhyming scheme as AABCCBAA, I want to say that it's more of ABCDDCBA just because of the syntax. This is something that a person would put a lot of heavy thought into and like I said before, it's probably one of the better pieces on this site.
Instead of having death being this whole gruesome, grim idea, you turn it into something beautiful, something worth thinking about. Instead of calling it "Death" it is the "Afterlife" which is the next journey after living and the process of dying. I would classify this as the black sheep of all death poems because you uplift the usual synonyms associated with dying such as black, skulls, the devil, etc. Instead, you use strange words that I would never think about writing about death with: heats, truth, summer, kiss, breath, feathers, virtuous.
I'm not sure if I know any myths with crocodile heads and being the Devourer of Souls. If you came up with that, that's simply remarkable. It shows how much you can stretch one idea, throw some imagination in there, and result in one totally, new thought. I'm guessing that the crocodile head is the crossing between words, just like a gate. Hmmm alligat(e)or, hahaha. Yes, I'm not really family with reptiles being a symbol of death at all, this is quite intriguing. You have to tell me how you came up with this idea.
When I think of a soft summer kiss, I'm thinking about a kid sitting on the side of the street corner getting pecked by a girl. The kiss is lithe yet it is remembered forever. This is where I feel like the poem strays away from other poems pertaining to the idea. Soft summer kiss totally blows me off from gloomness, but instead the sunny. It gives me thought that there is life after death and people shouldn't be sobbing all the time about death.
Arent' virtuous people always looked upon thus making them immortal in memory? I'd like to think that Abe Lincoln has always been around and has been living for quite some time after death. I'm not sure if it pertains to what you're saying, but I believe that we still see the virtue but we don't see what made them virtuous. We're constantly thinking of their death that we may find it almost impossible to think of them as the heroes we once knew.
I loved how you constructed this poem, it was very clever and I don't think people put too much thought to how it's written. You're light on words too, just as poetry is meant to be. Overall, I thought it was a wonderful poem that had style in it and you worked around the common theme's usual characters. I greatly commend you for that.