The English (Poets) Graveyard in Rome

If you’ve been to Rome as I have many times you begin to look beyond the usual tourist haunts for places of interest.  Of course there is no shortage of these–the city has layer upon layer of stories to tell.  

One such place of interest is the English Graveyard, or more precisely the graveyard for non-Catholics. 

There are two famous poets buried here Keats and Shelly.  

I loved poetry as a teenager.  Reams of beautiful words, gifts from my school days, are still available to me.  There is certainly something to be said for learning poetry ‘off by heart’.  

                      Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,–
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

                  Ode to a Grecian Urn

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Keats asked that his headstone remain anonymous and should state the following:

Here lies One whose Name was Writ in Water

His friends provided the explanation: 

This grave contains all that was mortal of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET who on his death bed in the bitterness of his heart, of the malicious power of his enemies, desired these words to be engraved on his tomb stone




Further along I came across the resting place of Shelly (actually only his ashes).  The inscription reads:

Nothing of him that doth fade 
But suffer a sea-change
into something rich and strange


 The cemetery contains many strange and beautiful sculptures. 

It is indeed tranquil and silent place. 

Strange indeed!


Leave a Reply