Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Epitaph in Butleigh Church

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Epitaph in Butleigh Church

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

DIVIDED far by death were they whose names,

In honor here united as in birth,

This monumental verse records. They drew

In Dorset’s healthy vales their natal breath,

And from these shores beheld the ocean first,

Whereon in early youth, with one accord,

They chose their way of fortune; to that course

By Hood and Bridport’s bright example drawn,

Their kinsmen, children of this place, and sons

Of one who in his faithful ministry

Inculcated within these hallowed walls

The truths in mercy to mankind revealed.

Worthy were these three brethren each to add

New honors to the already honored name;

But Arthur, in the morning of his day,

Perished amid the Caribbean Sea,

When the Pomona, by a hurricane

Whirled, riven, and overwhelmed, with all her crew

Into the deep went down. A longer date

To Alexander was assigned,—for hope,

For fair ambition, and for fond regret,

Alas, how short! for duty, for desert,

Sufficing; and, while Time preserves the roll

Of Britain’s naval feats, for good report.

A boy, with Cooke he rounded the great globe;

A youth, in many a celebrated fight

With Rodney had his part; and having reached

Life’s middle stage, engaging ship to ship,

When the French Hercules, a gallant foe,

Struck to the British Mars his three-striped flag,

He fell, in the moment of his victory.

Here his remains, in sure and certain hope,

Are laid, until the hour when earth and sea

Shall render up their dead. One brother yet

Survived, with Keppel and with Rodney trained

In battles, with the Lord of Nile approved,

Ere in command he worthily upheld

Old England’s high prerogative. In the East,

The West, the Baltic and the Midland Seas,—

Yea, wheresoever hostile fleets have ploughed

The ensanguined deep,—his thunders have been heard,

His flag in brave defiance hath been seen;

And bravest enemies at Sir Samuel’s name

Felt fatal presage, in their inmost heart,

Of unavertible defeat foredoomed.

Thus in the path of glory he rode on,

Victorious alway, adding praise to praise,

Till, full of honors, not of years, beneath

The venom of the infected clime he sunk,

On Coromandel’s coast, completing there

His service, only when his life was spent.

To the three brethren, Alexander’s son,

(Sole scion he in whom their line survived,)

With English feeling, and the deeper sense

Of filial duty, consecrates this tomb.