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


The Aisle of Tombs

By Anonymous

  • The interior of Chester-le-Street Church, Durham, contains a singular collection of monuments, bearing effigies of the deceased ancestry of the Lumley family, from the time of Liulphus to the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

  • THE QUIET and the chillness

    Of the aisle of tombs;

    The shadow and the stillness

    A rosy light illumes:

    Like the memory of the past,

    On the carvéd arms delaying,

    On the marble pall

    O’er the blood-red scutcheon playing

    With a crimson fall,

    Into sudden sunshine cast

    Are the ancient warriors,

    The warriors of olden time.

    So with kindled heart we love them,

    Dwelling on their fame;

    So doth memory fling above them

    Its shadow of a name,

    Noblest shadow flung on earth:

    We remember many a story

    Of the old chivalric day,

    When the red-cross, like a glory,

    Shone above the fray;

    ’T was a glorious age gave birth

    To the ancient warriors,

    The warriors of olden time.

    Though the sword no more be trusted

    As it was of old,

    Though the shining spear be rusted

    And the right hand cold,

    They have left their fame behind;

    Still a spirit from their slumbers

    Rises true and brave,

    Asks the minstrel for his numbers,

    Music from their grave:

    Noble, gentle, valiant, kind,

    Were the ancient warriors,

    The warriors of olden time.

    All their meaner part hath perished,

    In the earth at rest;

    And the present hour hath cherished

    What of them was best.

    What a knight should be we keep.

    For the present doth inherit

    All the glories of the past;

    We retain what was its spirit,

    While its dust to dust is cast.

    All good angels guard the sleep

    Of the ancient warriors,

    The warriors of olden time.