The Poetry Corner

Epitaph XVII. On Two Lovers Struck Dead By Lightning.[1]

By Alexander Pope

When Eastern lovers feed the funeral fire, On the same pile the faithful pair expire. Here pitying Heaven that virtue mutual found, And blasted both, that it might neither wound. Hearts so sincere, the Almighty saw well pleased, Sent his own lightning, and the victims seized. [Lord Harcourt, on whose property the unfortunate pair lived, was apprehensive that the country people would not understand the above, and Pope wrote the subjoined]:-- NEAR THIS PLACE LIE THE BODIES OF JOHN HEWET AND SARAH DREW, AN INDUSTRIOUS YOUNG MAN, AND VIRTUOUS MAIDEN OF THIS PARISH; WHO, BEING AT HARVEST-WORK (WITH SEVERAL OTHERS), WERE IN ONE INSTANT KILLED BY LIGHTNING, THE LAST DAY OF JULY 1718. Think not, by rigorous judgment seized, A pair so faithful could expire; Victims so pure Heaven saw well pleased, And snatch'd them in celestial fire. Live well, and fear no sudden fate; When God calls virtue to the grave, Alike 'tis justice soon or late, Mercy alike to kill or save. Virtue unmoved can hear the call, And face the flash that melts the ball.