Poets' Corner Westminster Abbey London 1892

THE POETS’ CORNER WESTMINSTER ABBEY LONDON — Beautiful as Westminster Abbey is as a specimen of architecture, its distinctive glory is not found in Gothic arches, dim religious light, fluted columns or even works of art. But that which thrills us as we tread the pavement of this ancient Shrine is the assemblage here of the illustrious dead of many centuries. Its old gray walls are lined with tablets, busts and monuments commemorating names which are like house-hold words. But the most interesting part of this historic Pantheon is what is called “The Poet’s Corner.” Here every English-speaking visitor at least stands with uncovered head and bated breath, feeling himself surrounded by the Master-spirits of his race. Here, for example, he sees a marble bust beneath which are the words “O rare Ben Jonson.” Close by it is that of the poet Milton, and beneath this is the medallion portrait of Gray, whose masterpiece, the “Elegy in a Country Churchyard,” is one of the most exquisite classics of our tongue. Space fails to enumerate the names of those whose “storied urn or animated bust” here “invokes the passing tribute of a sigh.’’ But Spencer, Dryden, Southey, Campbell, Thompson, Macaulay, Thackeray, Garrick, Grote, Sheridan and (last but not least) the dearly-loved Charles Dickens, all these and many more form here a galaxy of genius which makes the pilgrim from America forget all minor national distinctions, and glory in the fact that he too speaks the language of the men whose dust makes old Westminster haunted, holy ground. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


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