James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 8

The Grave of Shelley

By Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

LIKE burnt out torches by a sick man’s bed

Gaunt cypress trees stand round the sunbleached stone,

Here doth the little night owl make her throne,

And the slight lizard show his jeweled head.

And, where the chaliced poppers flame to red,

In the still chamber of yon pyramid

Surely some Old World Sphinx lurks darkly hid,

Grim warder of this pleasaunce of the dead.

Ah! sweet indeed to rest within the womb

Of Earth, great mother of Eternal Sleep,

But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb

In the blue cavern of an echoing deep,

Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom

Against the rocks of some wave-shattered steep.