The Countess' Pillar

William Wordsworth


On the roadside between Penrith and Appleby there stands a pillar with the following inscription:—

  “This pillar was erected, in the year 1656, by Anne Countess Dowager of Pembroke, &c., for a memorial of her last parting with her pious mother, Margaret Countess Dowager of Cumberland, on the 2d of April, 1616; in memory whereof she hath left an annuity of 4 l. to be distributed to the poor of the parish of Brougham, every 2d day of April forever, upon the stone table placed hard by. Laus Deo!”


WHILE the poor gather round, till the end of time

May this bright flower of charity display

Its bloom, unfolding at the appointed day;

Flower than the loveliest of the vernal prime

Lovelier, transplanted from heaven’s purest clime!

“Charity never faileth”: on that creed,

More than on written testament or deed,

The pious lady built with hope sublime.

Alms on this stone to be dealt out forever!

“Laus Deo.” Many a stranger passing by

Has with that parting mixed a filial sigh,

Blest its humane memorial’s fond endeavor,

And, fastening on those lines an eye tear-glazed,

Has ended, though no clerk, with “God be praised!”


Main Location:

Penrith, Cumbria, UK