Elegy for Ramrod

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: [none]

Written by Robert Hunter in memory of Lawrence 'Ramrod' Shurtliff, long-time member of the Grateful Dead's road crew.

Most never knew his given name.
They called him Ramrod.
Lawrence didn't fit him.
He came down from Oregon,
Prankster sidekick of Cassady,
Kesey and the merry crew,
a silent stoic in a vocable milieu
his heart was stolen by the Grateful Dead.

A country boy, not given to complexity,
his crowning gift was loyalty
for which he was loved more than
the common run of men by friends.
This is not to say more than was so,
the common fault of eulogies
which shine the silver of modest virtue
into the gold of rareness.

Every soul owes life a death.
Between each heartbeat is a moment
within which the pulse is still.
In the longer beat between life and death
a man was here we called a friend,
a father, a husband and a son.
He is us and we are him,
his death is ours, our lives are his.

Some see Heaven as dying's recompense,
some acknowledge only nothingness
in a space we know not of,
in a place we know not where.
But this we know, as a poet said:
"To have been here but the once
Never can be undone."

Some will pray, some just remember.
Those who pray, having prayed,
will go on to pray for others.
Those who remember,
having remembered for awhile,
will in the course of time forget,
more so as the years dissolve.
This is as it should be
lest death overstep its bounds
and impinge too much on life.
Life, being what is, cannot
impinge too much on death.

The circumstance we most desire
in grief which shakes our branches
like some holy hurricane raging
through this barren world of little light,
is that our brother be gathered in glory.
If so, rejoice! If wishful thinking,
give thanks instead
that he was here among us.
Delivered from the testing fire of pain,
a truer heart was never broken.