Oscar Wilde
The Grave of Shelley (1890)


Like burnt-out torches by a sick manís bed


Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun bleached stone;


Here doth the little night-owl make her throne,


And the slight lizard show his jewelled head.


And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red,


In the still chamber of yon pyramid


Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly hid,


Grim warder of this pleasance 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.