Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum at St. Rémy

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.

St. Rémy

The Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum at St. Rémy

By Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington (1789–1849)

  • The identity of those in whose honor the Arch of Triumph and Mausoleum of St. Rémy were raised puzzles antiquaries as much as does that of the individual for whom the pyramids of Egypt were built.

  • YON stately tomb that seeks the sky,

    Erected to the glorious dead,

    Through whose high arches sweeps the sigh

    The night-winds heave when day has fled;

    How fair its pillared stories rise

    ’Gainst yon blue firmament so pure;

    Fair as they met admiring eyes,

    Long ages past, they still endure.

    Yes, many a race hath left the earth

    Since first this mausoleum rose;

    So many, that the name or birth

    Of dead or founder no one knows.

    The sculptured pictures, all may see,

    Were by a skilful artist wrought;

    But, Time! the secret rests with thee,

    Which to unravel men have sought.

    Of whom were they, the honored dead,

    Whose memory love would here record?

    Lift up the veil, so long o’erspread,

    And tell whose dust yon fane doth guard.

    Name those whose love outlived the grave

    And sought to give for aye to fame

    Mementos of the good and brave,

    Of whom thou hast effaced the name.

    We know but that they lived and died,

    No more this stately tomb can tell:

    Here come and read a lesson, Pride,

    This monument can give so well.

    They lived, they hoped, they suffered, loved,

    As all of earth have ever done;

    Were oft by wild ambition moved,

    And basked, perchance, ’neath glory’s sun.

    They deemed that they should leave behind

    Undying names. Yet mark this fane;

    For whom it rose, by whom designed,

    Learned antiquaries search in vain.

    Still doth it wear the form it wore

    Through the dim lapse of bygone age;

    Triumph of art in days of yore,

    Whose history fills the classic page.

    To honor victors it is said

    ’T was raised, though none their names can trace;

    It stands as monument instead,

    Unto each long-forgotten race,

    Who came, like me, to gaze and brood

    Upon it in this lonely spot,

    Their minds with pensive thoughts imbued,

    That heroes could be thus forgot.

    Yet still the wind a requiem sighs,

    And the blue sky above it weeps;

    The sun pours down its radiant dyes,

    Though none can tell who ’neath it sleeps.

    And seasons roll, and centuries pass,

    And still unchanged thou keep’st thy place;

    While we, like shadows in a glass,

    Soon glide away, and leave no trace.

    And yon proud arch, the victor’s meed,

    Is nameless as the neighboring tomb:

    Victor, and dead, the Fates decreed

    Your memory to oblivion’s gloom.