Thomas Bailey Aldrich
In Westminster Abbey - Poem by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
"The Southern Transept, hardly known by any other name but Poets' Corner"
Tread softly here; the sacredest of tombs
Are those that hold your poets. Kings and queens
Are facile accidents of Time and Chance.
Chance sets them on the heights, they climb not there!
But he who from the darkling mass of men
Is on the wing of heavenly thought upborne
To finer ether, and becomes a voice
For all the voiceless, God annointed him:
His name shall be a star, his grave a shrine.
Tread softly here, in silent reverence tread.
Beneath those marble cenotaphs and urns
Lies richer dust than ever nature hid
Packed in the mountain's adamantine heart,
Or slyly wrapt in unsuspected sand--
The dross men toil for, and oft stain the soul.
How vain and all ignoble seems that greed
To him who stands in this dim claustral air
With these most sacred ashes at his feet!
This dust was Chaucer, Spenser, Dryden this--
The spark that once illumed it lingers still.
O ever-hallowed spot of English earth!
If the unleashed and unhappy spirit of man
Have option to visit our dull globe,
What august Shades at midnight here convene
In the miraculous sessions of the moon,
When the great pulse of London faintly throbs,
And one by one the stars in heaven pale!
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