Tuesday 12 December 2017

Random thoughts

Whenever I run across an abandoned cemetery in some lonely spot I usually think of the last three lines from a poem I encountered years ago.

The Knight's Tomb

"The knight's bones are dust
And his good sword rust;
His soul is with the saints, I trust."

- Samuel Coleridge

Coleridge (October 21, 1772 - July 25, 1834) was a poet, critic, and philosopher when someone could be that sort of person.

The poem in its entirety is:

"Where is the grave of Sir Arthur O'Kellyn?
Where may the grave of that good man be? —
By the side of a spring, on the breast of Helvellyn,
Under the twigs of a young birch tree!
The oak that in summer was sweet to hear,
And rustled its leaves in the fall of the year,
And whistled and roared in the winter alone,
Is gone,—and the birch in its stead is grown.—
The Knight's bones are dust,
And his good sword rust;—
His soul is with the saints, I trust."

There are lines from various times and places that stick with someone. Sir Arthur O'Kellyn is fictional, created for this work. I have read a few examinations and some analysis of this poem, about how it is about how people have forgotten about the king, and over time all has turned to dust. Supposedly on another level it is about how we, the living, tend to forget those over time that have joined the world of the dead. Or how life fades over time until all is dust. The last line states there is the hope that beyond this world virtue will be rewarded and one will be with the saints. I believe that someone who came out to some lonely part of the world years ago to create a life and build for the future was no less heroic than a knight. Their battles were probably harder.

My thoughts may not be what the author intended. I like to think that those who found themselves in some lonely abandoned cemetery were not forgotten, that they did their best, and that they were rewarded for that and are in a better place.


  1. "His soul is with the saints, I trust" seems to me to introduce a note of uncertainty or ambivalence about the ultimate fate of Sir Arthur.

    1. It may or may not. Intonation could mean it in the affirmative or uncertainty. You are right, it is another way to look at it.

  2. I always wonder about the lives of those lying beneath the sod.

  3. Alberta's warrior poet strikes again! :)

    Some people are creeped out by grave yards but I'm like you, BW. I shall look forward to talking to our ancestors when I arrive on the other side of the Great Divide.