Struck with religious awe, and solemn dread

First Line Struck with religious awe, and solemn dread
Author Anthony Moore
Date 1758

Elegy [Death, afterlife].

Transcribed from Moore, Rev. Mr. "A Soliloquy written in a Country-Church-Yard." The Gentleman's Magazine: and historical chronicle, vol. 28, March 1758, p. 127. British Periodicals, [ProQuest document ID:] 8532654.



Struck with religious awe, and solemn dread,

I view these gloomy mansions of the dead:

Around me tombs in mixt disorder rise,

And in mute language teach me to be wise.

Time was these ashes liv'd—a time must be

When others thus may stand—and look at me;

Alarming thought! no wonder 'tis we dread

O'er these uncomfortable vaults to tread,

Where blended lie the aged and the young,

The rich and poor an undistinguish'd throng;

Death conquers all, and time's subduing hand

Nor tombs, nor marble-statues can withstand.


Mark yonder ashes in confusion spread!

Compare earth's living tenants with her dead!

How striking the resemblance, yet how just!

Once life and soul informed this mass of dust;

Around these bones now broken and decay'd,

The streams of life in various channels play'd:

Perhaps that skull so horrible to view

Was some fair maid's, ye Belles as fair as you;

These hollow sockets two bright orbs contain'd,

Where the loves sported, and in triumph reign'd;

Here glow'd the lips, there white as Parian stone,

The teeth dispos'd in beauteous order shone.


This is life's goal—no farther can we view,

Beyond it, all is wonderful and new:

O deign some courteous ghost! to let us know

What we must shortly be, and you are now!

Sometimes you warn us of approaching fate,

Why hide the knowledge of your present state?

With joy behold us tremblingly explore

Th' unknown gulph, that you can fear no more?


The grave has eloquence—its lectures teach

In silence, louder than divines can preach;

Hear what it says—ye sons of folly hear!

It speaks to you—O give it then your ear!

It bids you lay all vanity aside,

O what a lecture this for human pride!


The clock strikes twelve—how solemn is the sound!

Hark, how the strokes from hollow vaults rebound!

They bid us hasten to be wise, and show

How rapid in their course the minutes flow.


See yonder yew—how high it lifts its head!

Around their gloomy shade the branches spread!

Old and decay'd, it still retains a grace

And adds more solemn horror to the place.


Whose tomb is this? it says, 'tis Myra's tomb,

Pluck'd from the world in beauty's fairest bloom,

Attend ye fair! ye thoughtless, and ye gay!

For Myra dy'd upon her nuptial day!

The grave, cold bridegroom! clasp'd her in its arms,

And the worm rioted upon her charms.


In yonder tomb the old Avaro lies

Once he was rich—the world esteemed him wise:

Schemes unaccomplish'd labour'd in his mind,

And all his thoughts were to the world confin'd;

Death came unlook'd for—from his grasping hands

Down dropt his bags, and mortgages of lands.


Beneath that sculptur'd pompous marble-stone

Lies youthful Florio, aged twenty-one;

Cropt like a flow'r, he wither'd in his bloom,

Tho' flatt'ring life had promis'd years to come:

Ye silken sons! ye Florio's of the age

Who tread in giddy maze life's flow'ry stage!

Mark here the end of man, in Florio see

What you, and all the sons of earth shall be!


There low in dust the vain Hortensio lies

Whose splendour once we view'd with envious eyes:

Titles and arms his pompous marble grace,

With a long hist'ry of his noble race:

Still after death his vanity survives,

And on his tomb all of Hortensio lives.


Around me as I turn my wand'ring eyes,

Unnumber'd graves in awful prospect rise,

Whose stones say only when their owners dy'd,

If young, or aged, and to whom ally'd. 

On others pompous epitaphs are spread

In mem'ry of the virtues of the dead,

Vain waste of praise! since flatt'ring or sincere

The judgement day alone will make appear.


How silent is this little spot of ground!

How melancholy looks each object round!

Here man dissolv'd in shatter'd ruin lies

So fast asleep—as if no more to rise;

'Tis strange to think how these dead bones can live,

Leap into form, and with new heat revive!

Or how this trodden earth to life shall wake,

Know its old place, its former figure take!

But whence these fears? when the last trumpet sounds

Thro' heav'n's expanse to earth's remotest bounds,

The dead shall quit these tenements of clay,

And view again the long extinguish'd day:

It must be so—the same Almighty pow'r

From dust who form'd us, can from dust restore.


Chear'd with this pleasing hope, I safely trust

Jehovah's pow'r to raise me from the dust,

On his unfailing promises rely,

And all the horrors of the grave defy.