Stones from Ashbourn Churchyard

1       Jesse Quantrill, Miller
2The toll taken, the grist drest:
3Here the bran, the flour with Christ.
4      Abel Paternoster, Gardener
5Here's a man who tossed and turned
6Beds of clay for sixty years.
7Now he's fast asleep in one,
8Don't disturb him with your tears:
9Rest which most men merely won,
10Abel Paternoster earned.
11       Rosemary Young (1729-1747)
12Whitest of white once, ruddiest of red,
13Here rests my fair one in her final bed.
14Though snatch'd from earth in beauty's early bloom,
15Her memory flowers even from the tomb
16And warms that breast which would a garland wear
17But feels too much to bear its fragrance near.
18            Mary Girling
19Eighty years old and late November,
20Hurry! I shiver --
21Colder than I care to remember:
22Throw the quilt over.
23  Matthew Wealthy (1848-1882)
24  Matthew Wealthy (1873-1882)
25Since smallpox took all my wealth
26I am forever beside myself.
27      Alfred Backus, Cesspit Digger
28Backus never took a bath.
29When his starched and spotless neighbors
30Spurned the man but spared his labours,
31"Septic Alf" bided their wrath.
32Now they're all that dirty, he
33Bids them welcome him with love
34As the prophet and founder of
35Their sod-roofed community.
36 Reverend Philip Wainwright
37Served His Lord
38And the Members
39Of This Parish
40To the Utmost
41Of His Capacity
42For Thirty-Seven Years,
43Three Months, and Nineteen Days.
44A Service Deemed Sufficient
45By the Lord, as Witness
46His Calling him Home
47To His Bosom;
48But Not by the Members
49Of This Parish, as Witness
50Their Leaving his Widow
51To Bear the Entire Burden
52Of This Memorial.
53Sarah Pearl Brimblecombe
54Her only rouge was blush.
55  She shunned the brush,
56Abjured pastels and paint's
57  Alluring taints,
58And cherished black and white
59  Until the night
60She put her charcoals by,
61  No longer shy,
62And gave up drawing breath
63  To limn death.
64    Infant Travis
65Ere we named him
66Death had claimed him.
67We would be giving
68Names to the living,
69So sleep, little son
70Without one.
71Harry Kemp, Shoemaker
72  Long life passed
73Where hammer and nail
74Told bickering tale.
75God hushed that sound
76And Harry found
77His toil ended,
78His soul mended --
79Peace at last.
Publication Notes: 
Ashbourn (Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1986): 32.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire