A Saxon Epitaph

By Marjorie Pickthall 1883–1922 Marjorie Pickthall
The earth builds on the earth
Castles and towers;
The earth saith of the earth:
All shall be ours.

            Yea, though they plan and reap
            The rye and the corn,
            Lo, they were bond to Sleep
            Ere they were born.

            Yea, though the blind earth sows
            For the fruit and the sheaf,
            They shall harvest the leaf of the rose
            And the dust of the leaf.

            Pride of the sword and power
            Are theirs at their need
            Who shall rule but the root of the flower
            The fall of the seed.

            They who follow the flesh
            In splendour and tears,
            They shall rest and clothe them afresh
            In the fulness of years.

            From the dream of the dust they came
            As the dawn set free.
            They shall pass as the flower of the flame
            Or the foam of the sea.

                        The earth builds on the earth
                        Castles and towers.
                        The earth saith of the earth:
                        All shall be ours.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Marjorie Pickthall 1883–1922



Subjects Time & Brevity, Nature, Living

Occasions Funerals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza


Probably no other Canadian writer has suffered such a plunge in reputation as Marjorie Pickthall. Once she was thought to be the best Canadian poet of her generation. Now her work, except for two or three anthologized pieces, goes unread. The fact is that her initial popularity was based upon extraliterary criteria. Her rejection of modernism in style and attitude made her the darling of conservative Canadian critics. She was . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, Living



Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.