Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

The Complaint Of An Ancient Briton. (Disinterred By Archaeologists) - Poem by Martin Farquhar Tupper

Two thousand years agone
They heap'd my battle-grave,
And each a tear and each a stone
My mourning warriors gave;
For I had borne me well,
And fought as patriots fight,
Till, like a British chief, I fell
Contending for the right.
Seam'd with many a wound,
All weakly did I lie;
My foes were dead or dying round,--
And thus I joy'd to die!
For their marauding crew
Came treacherously to kill,--
The many came against the few
To storm our sacred hill.
We battled, and we bled,
We won, and paid the price,
For I, the chief, lay down with the dead
A willing sacrifice!
My liegemen wail'd me long,
And treasured up my bones,
And rear'd my kist secure and strong
With tributary stones:
High on the breezy down,
My native hill's own breast,
Nigh to the din of mine ancient town,
They left me to my rest.
I hoped for peace and calm
Until my judgment hour,
And then to awake for the victor's palm
And patriot's throne of power!
And lo! till this dark day
Did men my grave revere;
Two thousand years had posted away,
And still I slumber'd here:
But now there broke a noise
Upon my silent home,
'Twas not the Resurrection voice
That burst my turfy tomb,--
But men of prying mind,
Alas, my fellow men,
Ravage my grave, my bones to find,
With sacrilegious ken!
Mine honour doth abjure
Your new barbarian race;
Restore, restore my bones secure
To some more sacred place!
With mattock and with spade
Ye dare to break my rest;
The pious mound is all unmade
My clan had counted blest;
Take, take my buckler's boss,
My sword, and spear, and chain,--
Steal all you can of this world's dross,
But -- rest my bones again!
I know your modern boast
Is light, and learning's spread,--
Learn of a Celt to show them most
In honour to the Dead!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

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