The mss. of this poem was found in the Museum of the Royal
College of Surgeons, London, near a perfect human skeleton. It
was first published around the early 1900’s
It Has a Profound Message!!!
Behold this ruin! ’Twas a skull,
Once of ethereal spirit filled.
This narrow cell was life’s retreat,
This space was thought’s mysterious seat.
What beauteous visions filled this spot,
What dreams of pleasure long forgot?
Nor hope, nor joy, nor love, nor fear,
Have left one trace of record here.
Beneath this moldering canopy
Once shone the bright and busy eye;
But start not at the dismal void;
If gracious love that eye employed,
If with no lawless fire it gleamed,
But through the dews of kindness beamed,---
That eye shall be ever bright
When stars and sun are sunk in night.
Within this hollow cavern hung
The ready, swift, and tuneful tongue;
If falsehood’s honey it disdained,
And when it could not praise was chained;
If bold in virtues cause it spoke,
Yet gentle concord never broke,---
This silent tongue shall plead for thee
When time unveils eternity.
Say, did these fingers delve the mine,
Or with the envied rubies shine?
To hew the rock or wear the gem
Can little now avail to them.
But if the page of truth they sought,
Or comfort to the mourner brought,
These hands a richer meed shall claim
Then all that wait on wealth or fame.
Avails it whether bare or shod
These feet the path of duty trod?
If from the bowers of ease they fled,
To seek afflictions humble shed;
If grandeur’s guilty bribe they spurned,
And home to virtues cot returned,---
These feet with angel wings shall vie,
And tread the palace of the sky.
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