• J. W. Barlament

A Memory in a Mausoleum

The day was old, the sun was set

And since the morn had rocked a chair

A man did sit a-thinking there

Meditating on impending death

A grandiose conception came

Through which his sins could be forgave

If he just built himself a mighty grave

He could have fame

For little he’d admit he’d done

In all the life already spent

But little that’d matter if he went

And worked upon a tomb ’til wrung


I tell a tale of vanity

Cried monkey man aloud

Amidst a giggling crowd

In sin and sanity


And so, a first in life, applied

Himself and saw what man can be

Doing new and many-storied deeds

Feeling finally revitalized

A name he’d never had because

A name he’d never had deserved

But once in tomb he’d been interred

Global maps would mark what spot he was

This he thought, as he grew slow and old

And visionary skeletal metropolis

Matured into a new cyclopean

Wonder of a vainly aging world


I wail a tale of vanity

Cried monkey man aloud

Amidst a wide-eyed crowd

In sincerity and sanity


Complete it was a day before

The fated day of surname-ending death

And like a tidal wave the very breath

Was robbed of all from shore to shore

And in the crowds’ parades he won

The memory he’d always dreamed

For all his dullness nonsense seemed

To those who’d seen his great creative sum

So thrilled was he in time of dying

Never knowing that the memory he earned

Was of a site where vanity was learned

If he knew that, his bones would be a-writhing


I end a tale of vanity

Cried monkey man aloud

Amidst a tired crowd

Insincere insanity

“Mausoleum with Stone Elephants” by Francis Swain Ward

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