Amid a vast cathedral’s gloom,
In mournful grandeur and array,
Enclosed within a gorgeous tomb,
The ashes of a monarch lay.
And when he laid his robes aside,
The tidings spread from shore to shore,
“The King hath died! the King hath died!
He'll wear that earthly crown no more;
But O! a never-fading crown,
Of richer beauty, may he wear,
And reign with glory and renown
In regions ever bright and fair!”
But can he take his earthly fame?
Will praises, there, to him be given?
And will celestial hosts proclaim,
“A King! A King! is come to Heaven!”
No! he who judged his fellow-men,
While on this little earth he trod,
Will be arraigned among them then,
A prisoner at the bar of God!
Within a rustic churchyard ground,
Beneath a spreading yew tree’s shade,
Arose a little verdant mound,
Wherein a cherub babe was laid;
How short on earth its little day!
How fleeting here the infant’s breath!
Ere to a world of brighter ray
‘Twas summoned, by the hand of death!
No solemn dirge; no mournful show,
When to its grave the child they bore,
The mother’s heart was filled with woe,
A father wept, and all was o’er!
But still, around that lowly tomb,
The air seems fill’d with holy chanting,
And flowerets fair beside it bloom,
That seem to be of angels’ planting!
* * * * *
The monarch’s glory was of earth,
His fame and praises here were given;
The babe’s was of celestial birth,
Its wreath was treasured up in Heaven!
- Liverpool Albion. J.O. TILDESLEY.

Title:Two Graves

Author:J. O. Tildesley

Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:30th August 1862

Keywords:class, poverty, religion


This poem by J.O. Tildesley, originally published in the Liverpool Albion, contrasts the graves of a king and a baby from a humble background. It follows the familiar Victorian trope of valorising simplicity through poverty and suggests that the king’s earthbound praise and status is lost whilst the child’s is eternal. It is certain that there will have been some people who found comfort in these religious assurances in the face of the devastation of the Cotton Famine, and just as certain that others saw them as more or less cynical platitudes. – SR