The Corner

The one and only.

The Obit to Beat All Obits


From a reader:

Mr. Robinson,

I haven’t been following this thread all day, but thought that Swift deserved a mention in the obituary department, for this great, deliciously cruel elegy.


His Grace! impossible! what dead!

Of old age, too, and in his bed!

And could that Mighty Warrior fall?

And so inglorious, after all!

Well, since he’s gone, no matter how,

The last loud trump must wake him now:

And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,

He’d wish to sleep a little longer.

And could he be indeed so old

As by the news-papers we’re told?

Threescore, I think, is pretty high;

’Twas time in conscience he should die.

This world he cumber’d long enough;

He burnt his candle to the snuff;

And that’s the reason, some folks think,

He left behind so great a stink.

Behold his funeral appears,

Nor widow’s sighs, nor orphan’s tears,

Wont at such times each heart to pierce,

Attend the progress of his hearse.

But what of that, his friends may say,

He had those honours in his day.

True to his profit and his pride,

He made them weep before he dy’d.

Come hither, all ye empty things,

Ye bubbles rais’d by breath of Kings;

Who float upon the tide of state,

Come hither, and behold your fate.

Let pride be taught by this rebuke,

How very mean a thing’s a Duke;

From all his ill-got honours flung,

Turn’d to that dirt from whence he sprung.

Jonathan Swift


Sign up for free NR e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review