Friday, December 9, 2011

Epitaph: Thou joyous youth!

The roses carved on the gravestone of Robert Lisle (d. 18??) are weathered and nearly unrecognizable. It will only get worse. The stone is lying on the ground in two pieces. You can see tire marks on its face left by the industrial lawn mowers that help maintain the grounds of the cemetery.


ROB’T LISLE.
DIED
July 11, 18[??)
[destroyed]
6 mo. [11, 17, 14?] dy.
Thou joyous youth, hence learn how soon
Thy yeares may end their flight:
Long long before life’s brilliant noon
May come death’s gloomy night.

Amazingly, the epitaph is not only in one piece, but quite legible. It is a verse from a hymn written by William A. Muhlenberg (b. 1796, d. 1877) named “How short the race our friend has run,” a hint at Robert’s age.

How short the race our friend has run,
Cut down in all his bloom!
The course but yesterday begun
Now finished in the tomb!

Thou joyous youth! hence learn how soon
Thy years may end their flight:
Long, long before life’s brilliant noon
May come death’s gloomy night.

To serve thy God no longer wait,
To-day his voice regard;
To-morrow, mercy’s open gate
May be for ever barr’d.

And thus the Lord reveals his grace,
Thy youthful love to gain;
“The soul that early seeks my face
Shall never seek in vain.”


Union Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

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