Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
Churchill’s Grave
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
I STOOD beside the grave of him who blazed
The comet of a season, and I saw
The humblest of all sepulchres, and gazed
With not the less of sorrow and of awe
On that neglected turf and quiet stone,        5
With name no clearer than the names unknown
Which lay unread around it; and I asked
The gardener of that ground, why it might be
That for this plant strangers his memory tasked
Through the thick deaths of half a century?        10
And thus he answered: “Well, I do not know
Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so;
He died before my day of sextonship,
And I had not the digging of this grave.”
And is this all? I thought; and do we rip        15
The veil of immortality, and crave
I know not what of honor and of light
Through unborn ages, to endure this blight,
So soon, and so successless? As I said,
The Architect of all on which we tread—        20
For earth is but a tombstone—did essay
To extricate remembrance from the clay,
Whose minglings might confuse a Newton’s thought,
Were it not that all life must end in one,
Of which we are but dreamers. As he caught        25
As ’t were the twilight of a former sun,
Thus spoke he: “I believe the man of whom
You wot, who lies in this selected tomb,
Was a most famous writer in his day,
And therefore travellers step from out their way        30
To pay him honor,—and myself whate’er
Your honor pleases.” Then most pleased I shook
From out my pocket’s avaricious nook
Some certain coins of silver, which as ’t were
Perforce I gave this man, though I could spare        35
So much but inconveniently:—ye smile,
I see ye, ye profane ones! all the while
Because my homely phrase the truth would tell.
You are the fools, not I; for I did dwell
With a deep thought and with a softened eye        40
On that old sexton’s natural homily,
In which there was obscurity and fame,—
The glory and the nothing of a name.

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