"What hast thou seen in the olden time,
Dark ruin, lone and gray?"
"Full many a race from thy native clime,
And the bright earth, pass away.
The organ has pealed in these roofless aisles,
And priests have knelt to pray
At the altar, where now the daisy smiles
O'er their silent beds of clay.
"I've seen the strong man a wailing child,
By his mother offered here;
I've seen him a warrior fierce and wild;
I've seen him on his bier,
His warlike harness beside him laid
In the silent earth to rust;
His plumed helm and trusty blade
To moulder into dust!
"I've seen the stern reformer scorn
The things once deemed divine,
And the bigot's zeal with gems adorn
The altar's sacred shrine.
I've seen the silken banners wave
Where now the ivy clings,
And the sculptured stone adorn the grave
Of mitred priests and kings.
"I've seen the youth in his tameless glee,
And the hoary locks of age,
Together bend the pious knee,
To read the sacred page;
I've seen the maid with her sunny brow
To the silent dust go down,
The soil-bound slave forget his woe,
The king resign his crown.
"Ages have fled--and I have seen
The young--the fair--the gay--
Forgot as if they ne'er had been,
Though worshipped in their day:
And school-boys here their revels keep,
And spring from grave to grave,
Unconscious that beneath them sleep
The noble and the brave.
"Here thousands find a resting place
Who bent before this shrine;
Their dust is here--their name and race,
Oblivion; now are thine!
The prince--the peer--the peasant sleeps
Alike beneath the sod;
Time o'er their dust short record keeps,
Forgotten save by God!
"I've seen the face of nature change,
And where the wild waves beat,
The eye delightedly might range
O'er many a goodly seat;
But hill, and dale, and forest fair,
Are whelmed beneath the tide.
They slumber here--who could declare
Who owned those manors wide!
"All thou hast felt--these sleepers knew;
For human hearts are still
In every age to nature true,
And swayed by good or ill:
By passion ruled and born to woe,
Unceasing tears they shed;
But thou must sleep, like them, to know
The secrets of the dead!"