The Funeral of Charles the First

William Lisle Bowles

THE CASTLE clock had tolled midnight;

  With mattock and with spade,

And silent, by the torches’ light,

  His corse in earth we laid.

 

The coffin bore his name, that those

  Of other years might know,

When earth its secrets should disclose,

  Whose bones were laid below.

 

“Peace to the dead” no children sung,

  Slow pacing up the nave;

No prayers were read, no knell was rung,

  As deep we dug his grave.

 

We only heard the winter’s wind,

  In many a sullen gust,

As o’er the open grave inclined,

  We murmured, “Dust to dust!”

 

A moonbeam, from the arches’ height,

  Streamed, as we placed the stone;

The long aisles started into light,

  And all the windows shone.

 

We thought we saw the banners then,

  That shook along the walls,

While the sad shades of mailéd men

  Were gazing from the stalls.

 

’T is gone! again, on tombs defaced,

  Sits darkness more profound,

And only, by the torch, we traced

  The shadows on the ground.

 

And now the chilly, freezing air

  Without blew long and loud;

Upon our knees we breathed one prayer

  Where he slept in his shroud.

 

We laid the broken marble floor,—

  No name, no trace appears,—

And when we closed the sounding door,

  We thought of him with tears.