Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GRAVE OF COLUMBUS, by JOANNA BAILLIE



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THE GRAVE OF COLUMBUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Silence, solemn, awful, deep
Last Line: "though his cered corpse lies here, with god his spirit dwells!"
Subject(s): Columbus, Christopher (1451-1506); Explorers; Graves; Exploring; Discovery; Discoverers; Tombs; Tombstones


Silence, solemn, awful, deep,
Doth in that hall of death her empire keep;
Save when at times the hollow pavement, smote
By solitary wanderer's foot, amain
From lofty dome and arch and aisle remote,
A circling loud response receives again.
The stranger starts to hear the growing sound,
And sees the blazon'd trophies waving near;
"Ha! tread my feet so near that sacred ground!"
He stops and bows his head: -- "Columbus resteth here!"

Some ardent youth, perhaps, ere from his home
He launch his vent'rous bark, will hither come;
Read fondly o'er and o'er his graven name,
With feelings keenly touch'd, -- with heart of flame,
Till wrapp'd in fancy's wild delusive dream,
Times past, and long forgotten, present seem;
To his charm'd ear the east-wind rising shrill,
Seems through the Hero's shroud to whistle still.
The clock's deep pendulum swinging, through the blast
Sounds like the rocking of the lofty mast;
While fitful gusts rave like his clam'rous band
Mix'd with the accents of his high command.
Slowly the stripling quits the pensive scene,
And burns, and sighs, and weeps to be what he has been.

Oh! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
Whilst in that sound there is a charm
The nerves to brace, the heart to warm;
As thinking of the mighty dead,
The young from slothful couch will start,
And vow, with lifted hands outspread,
Like them to act a noble part.

Oh! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
When but for those our mighty dead,
All ages past a blank would be,
Sunk in oblivion's murky bed,
A desert bare, a shipless sea!
They are the distant objects seen, --
The lofty marks of what hath been.

Oh! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
When memory of the mighty dead
To earth-worn pilgrims' wistful eye
The brightest rays of cheering shed
That point to immortality?

A twinkling speck, but fix'd and bright,
To guide us through the dreary night,
Each hero shines, and lures the soul
To gain the distant happy goal.
For is there one who musing o'er the grave
Where lies interr'd the good, the wise, the brave,
Can poorly think beneath the mouldering heap,
That noble being shall for ever sleep?
"No!" saith the generous heart, and proudly swells, --
"Though his cered corpse lies here, with GOD his spirit dwells!"





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