The Grave of Shelley

Oscar Wilde

Like burnt-out torches by a sick man's bed
Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun-bleached stone;
Here doth the little night-owl make her throne,
And the slight lizard show his jewelled head.
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red,
In the still chamber of yon pyramid
Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly hid,
Grim warder of this pleasaunce of the dead.

Ah! sweet indeed to rest within the womb
Of Earth great mother of eternal sleep,
But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb
In the blue cavern of an echoing deep,
Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom
Against the rocks of some wave-shattered steep.

The grave of Shelley is in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. It is next to the tomb of Cestius, which is in the shape of a Pyramid.

Shelley's body was cremated on the beach at Viareggio where it washed up after he drowned at sea. His ashes are buried in Rome.

The simple gravestone bears inscription, Cor Cordium ("Heart of Hearts"), and, in reference to his drowning at sea, a few words from The Tempest by William Shakespeare:

"Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange."

Also buried in the cemetery is another great Romantic poet, John Keats. Wilde also wrote a poem about the grave of Keats.

Main Location:

Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Campo Cestio

Other locations:

The grave of the great romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome