Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Stanzas Written in the Churchyard of Richmond, Yorkshire
By Herbert Knowles (1798–1817)
 
          “It is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.”—ST. MATTHEW.

METHINKS it is good to be here,
If thou wilt let us build,—but for whom?
Nor Elias nor Moses appear;
But the shadows of eve that encompass with gloom
The abode of the dead and the place of the tomb.        5
 
Shall we build to Ambition? Ah, no!
Affrighted, he shrinketh away,—
For see, they would pin him below
In a dark narrow cave, and, begirt with cold clay,
To the meanest of reptiles a fear and a prey.        10
 
To Beauty? Ah, no! she forgets
The charms which she wielded before,
Nor knows the foul worm that he frets
The skin that but yesterday fools could adore,
For the smoothness it held, or the tint which it wore.        15
 
Shall we build to the purple of Pride,
The trappings which dizen the proud?
Alas! they are all laid aside,
And here’s neither dress nor adornment allowed,
Save the long winding-sheet and the fringe of the shroud.        20
 
To Riches? Alas, ’tis in vain;
Who hide in their turns have been hid;
The treasures are squandered again;
And here in the grave are all metals forbid,
Save the tinsel that shines on the dark coffin lid.        25
 
To the pleasures which Mirth can afford,
The revel, the laugh and the jeer?
Ah! here is a plentiful board!
But the guests are all mute at their pitiful cheer,
And none but the worm is a reveller here.        30
 
Shall we build to Affection and Love?
Ah, no! They have withered and died,
Or fled with the spirit above:
Friends, brothers, and sisters, are laid side by side,
Yet none have saluted, and none have replied.        35
 
Unto Sorrow? The dead cannot grieve;
Not a sob, not a sigh meets mine ear,
Which Compassion itself could relieve.
Ah, sweetly they slumber, nor love, hope, or fear,
Peace, peace! is the watchword, the only one here.        40
 
Unto Death, to whom monarchs must bow?
Ah, no! for his empire is known,
And here there are trophies enow!
Beneath the cold head, and around the dark stone,
Are the signs of a sceptre that none may disown.        45
 
The first tabernacle to Hope we will build,
And look for the sleepers around us to rise!
The second to Faith, which insures it fulfilled;
And the third to the Lamb of the great sacrifice,
Who bequeathed us them both when he rose to the skies.        50
 
 
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