"LOVE, let me take thy hand,
That tenderest, truest one,
The same I held, when we did stand,
Before the altar-stone:
There, let me hold it so;
It stays my fluttering heart:
Nor, till its pulses cease to flow,
Permit that grasp to part.
"Nay,--when thy breast, my bride,
Mingles its dust with mine,
And sweetly sleeping, side by side,
We rest beneath the shrine;
So let the Sculptor's art,
Our love perpetuate:
The grasp, that life could never part,
Death shall but consecrate!"
Thus dying Beauchamp spake;
His will was strictly done; **
Sweetly they sleep, as once they stood,
Before the altar-stone;
He, in his mailéd coat,
She, in her bridal vest;
In sculptured beauty, side by side,
And hand in hand, they rest.
I've stood among the tombs,
In many an ancient fane,
Where mitred head, and sworded hand,
Call ages up, again:
But all the stone seems here
Instinct with vital breath;
And this, its lesson to the heart--
LOVE, OVERMASTERING DEATH.
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, 24th July, 1841.
* "Thee let me gaze on, with my dying breath,
And clasp thy hand, when mine relents in death." G.W.D.
** In the centre of the choir is a fine table monument, supporting the recumbent effigies of Earl Thomas Beauchamp, the founder of the choir, and Catharine, his Countess, daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. The Earl is represented in armour covered with a Surcoat, a dagger on his right side, spurs on his heels, his left band gauntleted, resting on his sword, his right hand uncovered, clasping that of his Countess, his helmeted head supported by a cushion, his feet resting on a bear. His Countess is habited in a mantle and petticoat, laced down the front, below the girdle, and very rich, her sleeves reaching to the wrists, and buttoned, her headdress reticulated, her head supported by a cushion, and her feet resting on a lamb. Her right hand is clasped in that of the Earl, her left hand reposes on her breast.