Sun-dial in the Churchyard at Bremhill

William Lisle Bowles

So passes silent o'er the dead thy shade,
  Brief Time; and hour by hour, and day by day,
The pleasing pictures of the present fade,
  And like a summer vapour steal away!

And have not they, who here forgotten lie
  (Say, hoary chronicler of ages past!)
Once marked thy shadow with delighted eye,
  Nor thought it fled, how certain, and how fast!

Since thou hast stood, and thus thy vigil kept,
  Noting each hour, o'er mouldering stones beneath;
The pastor and his flock alike have slept,
  And dust to dust proclaimed the stride of death.

Another race succeeds, and counts the hour,
  Careless alike; the hour still seems to smile,
As hope, and youth, and life, were in our power;
  So smiling and so perishing the while.

I heard the village bells, with gladsome sound,
  When to these scenes a stranger I drew near,
Proclaim the tidings to the village round,
  While memory wept upon the good man's bier.

Even so, when I am dead, shall the same bells
  Ring merrily, when my brief days are gone;
While still the lapse of time thy shadow tells,
  And strangers gaze upon my humble stone!

Enough, if we may wait in calm content,
  The hour that bears us to the silent sod;
Blameless improve the time that heaven has lent,
  And leave the issue to thy will, O God!

William Lisle Bowles became vicar of Bremhill in 1804.

Author's Note: Good man's bier - My predecessor, Rev. Nathaniel Hume, canon residentiary and precentor of Salisbury, a man of exemplary benevolence.