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Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Летиция Элизабет Лэндон)

The Nameless Grave

A nameless grave,—there is no stone
    To sanctify the dead:
O'er it the willow droops alone,
    With only wild flowers spread.

"Oh, there is nought to interest here,
    No record of a name,
A trumpet call upon the ear,
    High on the roll of fame.

"I will not pause beside a tomb
    Where nothing calls to mind
Aught that can brighten mortal gloom,
    Or elevate mankind;—

"No glorious memory to efface
    The stain of meaner clay;
No intellect whose heavenly trace
    Redeem'd our earth:—away!"

Ah, these are thoughts that well may rise
    On youth's ambitious pride;
But I will sit and moralise
    This lowly stone beside.

Here thousands might have slept, whose name
    Had been to thee a spell,
To light thy flashing eyes with flame,—
    To bid thy young heart swell.

Here might have been a warrior's rest,
    Some chief who bravely bled,
With waving banner, sculptured crest,
    And laurel on his head.

That laurel must have had its blood,
    That blood have caused its tear,—
Look on the lovely solitude—
    What! wish for warfare here!

A poet might have slept,—what! he
    Whose restless heart first wakes
Its life-pulse into melody,
    Then o'er it pines and breaks?—

He who hath sung of passionate love,
    His life a feverish tale:—
Oh! not the nightingale, the dove
    Would suit this quiet vale.

See, I have named your favourite two,—
    Each had been glad to crave
Rest 'neath this turf's unbroken dew,
    And such a nameless grave!

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's other poems:
  1. To Sir John Doyle, Bart
  2. Amelioration and the Future, Man's Noble Tasks
  3. Age and Youth
  4. Portrait
  5. Ideal Likenesses. Ariadne

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