The Tomb of Laura

Nicholas Michell

City of Laura! though yon tree of gloom
But marks her grave — gone, gone her very tomb,*
Doth not each wind, as if an angel came
Whispering Heaven's music, breathe her gentle name?
But where sweet Remy nestles 'neath the hill,
And mulberry groves the winding valley fill,
A beauteous monument of filial love,
Yet spared by Ruin, peers the boughs above:
Carved pedestal, rotunda, column, rise,
Graceful and light, and charm the coldest eyes;
Each side displays the* sculptor's glowing art,
Life-like the varied figures seem to start;
Here horse and horseman charge in furious fight,
Triumph the brave, the vanquished take to flight;
And here a sadder scene — the field of death,
Where pride lies low, and warriors yield their breath,
Though Glory hangs her laurel, not in vain,
O'er the drooped head, and soothes their dying pain.
Above, two statues, mouldering wrecks, are shown,
A mother, sire, — their story all unknown,
Save that for them fond children raised this pile;
Gently sweep by, ye years! ye seasons! smile,
Slow-wasting winds! this hallowed structure spare,
Shield it, ye gnomes! ye spirits of the air!
Long let it rise of olden love to tell,
Gentle as touching — love which breathes a spell,
Fraught with bright instincts pure from Nature's God,
For children's tears have sanctified this sod.

The City of Laura is Avignon, where the 14th Century poet Petrarch first saw Laura, the love of his love. Her tomb was said to be in the Church of the Cordeliers.

*Author's Note: The church of the Cordeliers, at Avignon, in which Petrarch's Laura was buried, is destroyed, and her tomb has disappeared, a cypress alone standing now on the spot which it occupied.