Churchill’s Grave
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

  1.   I stood beside the grave of him who blazed
  2.      The comet of a season, and I saw
  3.   The humblest of all sepulchres, and gazed
  4.      With not the less of sorrow and of awe
  5.   On that neglected turf and quiet stone,
  6.   With name no clearer than the names unknown,
  7.      Which lay unread around it; and asked
  8.   The Gardener of that ground, why it might be
  9.      That for this plant strangers his memory tasked
  10.   Through the thick deaths of half a century;
  11.      And thus he answered—“Well, I do not know
  12.      Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so;
  13.   He died before my day of sextonship,
  14.      And I had not the digging of this grave.”
  15.   And is this all? I thought,—and do we rip
  16.      The veil of Immortality? and crave
  17.   I know not what of honour and of light
  18.   Through unborn ages, to endure this blight?
  19.      So soon, and so successless? As I said,
  20.      The Architect of all on which we tread,
  21.   For Earth is but a tombstone, did essay
  22.   To extricate remembrance from the clay,
  23.      Whose minglings might confuse a Newton’s thought,
  24.   Were it not that all life must end in one,
  25.      Of which we are but dreamers;—as he caught
  26.   As ’twere the twilight of a former Sun,
  27.      Thus spoke he,—“I believe the man of whom
  28.      You wot, who lies in this selected tomb,
  29.   Was a most famous writer in his day,
  30.   And therefore travellers step from out their way
  31.      To pay him honour,—and myself whate’er
  32.   Your honour pleases,”—then most pleased I shook
  33.   From out my pocket’s avaricious nook
  34.      Some certain coins of silver, which as ’twere
  35.      Perforce I gave this man, though I could spare
  36.   So much but inconveniently:—Ye smile,
  37.   I see ye, ye profane ones! all the while,
  38.      Because my homely phrase the truth would tell.
  39.      You are the fools, not I—for I did dwell
  40.   With a deep thought, and with a softened eye,
  41.   On that Old Sexton’s natural homily,
  42.      In which there was Obscurity and Fame,—
  43.      The Glory and the Nothing of a Name.