Once from the world of living men
I passed, by a strange fancy led,
To a still City of the Dead,
To call upon a citizen.
He had been famous in his day;
Much talked of, written of, and praised
For virtues my small soul amazed,
And yet I thought his heart was clay.
He was too full of grace for me:
His friends said, on a marble stone,
His soul sat somewhere near the Throne
I did not know; I called to see.
His name and fame were on the door,
A most superior tomb indeed,
Much railed, and gilt, and filigreed;
He occupied the lower floor.
I knocked - a worm crawled from its hole:
I looked - and knew it for his soul.