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Short poem

William Lisle Bowles (1762-1850)

On the Funeral of Charles the First at Night, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor

              1The castle clock had tolled midnight:
              2    With mattock and with spade,
              3And silent, by the torches' light,
              4    His corse in earth we laid.

              5  The coffin bore his name, that those
              6    Of other years might know,
              7When earth its secrets should disclose,
              8    Whose bones were laid below.

              9  "Peace to the dead" no children sung,
            10    Slow pacing up the nave,--
            11No prayers were read, no knell was rung,
            12    As deep we dug his grave.

            13  We only heard the winter's wind,
            14    In many a sullen gust,
            15As, o'er the open grave inclined,
            16    We murmured, "Dust to dust!"

            17  A moonbeam from the arch's height
            18    Streamed, as we placed the stone;
            19The long aisles started into light,
            20    And all the windows shone.

            21  We thought we saw the banners then,
            22    That shook along the walls,
            23Whilst the sad shades of mailèd men
            24    Were gazing on the stalls.

            25  'Tis gone! again on tombs defaced
            26    Sits darkness more profound;
            27And only by the torch we traced
            28    The shadows on the ground.

            29  And now the chilling, freezing air
            30    Without blew long and loud;
            31Upon our knees we breathed one prayer,
            32    Where he slept in his shroud.

            33  We laid the broken marble floor,--
            34    No name, no trace appears,--
            35And when we closed the sounding door,
            36    We thought of him with tears.

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: William Lisle Bowles, Poetical Works (Edinburgh: J. Nichol, 1855). PR 4161 B4 1855 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1855
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP.2.19; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/16

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: abab

Other poems by William Lisle Bowles