"To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Thomas Campbell was a Scotch poet, once highly regarded but now largely forgotten, except for his didactic Pleasures of Hope (1799), that contributed such phrases as: "'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view," and "Like angel-visits, few and far between." He also made patriotic hearts throb with a dozen bold poems like "Ye Mariners of England." (1801). After considering emigrating to America where his brothers were already settled, he gave up the idea when a publisher paid him sixty pounds for Pleasures of Hope. He then started working on a long poem called Gertrude of Wyoming or the Pennsylvania Cottage, his closest contact with the New World. It deals with an Indian massacre and was published in 1809. Among other of his hack work were a three-volume Annals of Great Britain (1802), and a seven-volume Specimens of British Poets (1819). Of himself, he said, "the only important event of his life's little history" was his proposal to establish the University of London, which was accomplished with the aid of Henry Peter Brougham (1778–1868) and Joseph Hume (1777–1855). For his contribution to literature, as well as to education, he was given burial in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Because of his stirring patriotic Lines on Poland and The Power of Russia, both of 1831, as well as his interest in 1832 in the Polish Literary Association, a guard of Polish nobles sprinkled on his grave earth from the grave of Kosciusko. The poem "Hallowed Ground" begins with a demand to know the meaning of the phrase. Did God set apart some section of the earth not to be sullied by the foot of man, made in the image of God? Does the expression refer to the grave where "lips repose our love has kissed?" No, because that soul still lives on, a part of oneself. Everything except true love fades, and that will not cool "until the heart itself be cold in Lethe's pool." Campbell then answers his question in stanzas five and six, and in a stirring final stanza.

What hallows ground where heroes sleep?
'T is not the scuptured piles you heap!
In dews that heavens far distant weep
Their turf may bloom;
Or Genii twine beneath the deep
Their coral tomb.
But strew his ashes to the wind
Whose sword or voice has served mankind–
And is he dead whose glorious mind
Lifts thine on high?–
To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
. . .
What's hallowed ground? 'Tis what gives birth
To sacred thoughts in souls of worth!–
Peace! Independence! Truth! go forth
Earth's compass round,
And your high priesthood shall make earth
All hallowed ground.