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Short poem

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)

What the Sexton Said

              1Your dust will be upon the wind
              2Within some certain years,
              3Though you be sealed in lead to-day
              4Amid the country's tears.

              5When this idyllic churchyard
              6Becomes the heart of town,
              7The place to build garage or inn,
              8They'll throw your tombstone down.

              9Your name so dim, so long outworn,
            10Your bones so near to earth,
            11Your sturdy kindred dead and gone,
            12How should men know your worth?

            13So read upon the runic moon
            14Man's epitaph, deep-writ.
            15It says the world is one great grave.
            16For names it cares no whit.

            17It tells the folk to live in peace,
            18And still, in peace, to die.
            19At least, so speaks the moon to me,
            20The tombstone of the sky.


13] runic: runes are old Germanic letters, hard to read, and often carved in stone.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Vachel Lindsay, A Handy Guide for Beggars Especially those of the Poetic Fraternity (New York: Macmillan, 1916): 159. PS 3523 I58H3 Robarts Library. Collected Poems (New York: Macmillan, 1923): 247-48.
First publication date: July 1916
Publication date note: Forum (July 1916)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/21

Composition date: 1916
Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by Vachel Lindsay