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Death, Rigid Lord, Hath Claimed the Lifeless Clay (Today's Epitaph)

Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum
Martha, daughter of George and Martha S. Walker, was born 4 November 1828. She died less than twenty-one years later on 25 May 1849. "She was amiable, pious, and beloved in her life, and deeply lamented in her death."

Another portion of Martha's epitaph on her tombstone at Walker Cemetery in Bleckley County, Georgia reads, "Death, rigid Lord, hath claimed the lifeless clay; While joyously the youthful soul hath gone to take its heritage."

I found this same couplet in a book entitled New Cyclopaedia of Poetical Illustrations (pub 1872). The book was divided into categories, and the above lines were part of a writing by M. F. Tupper under "DEATH, Physical." I found it interesting, if a bit graphic:

Martha Walker tombstone, © 2013 S. Lincecum
Death is here in spirit, watcher of a marble corpse,
That eye is fixed, that heart is still, -- how dreadful in its stillness!
Death, new tenant of the house, pervadeth all the fabric;
He waiteth at the head, and he standeth at the feet, and hideth in the caverns of the breast:
Death, subtle leech, hath anatomized soul from body,
Dissecting well in every nerve its spirit from its substance:
Death, rigid lord, hath claimed the heliot clay,
While joyously the youthful soul hath gone to take his heritage:
Death, cold usurer, hath seized his bonded debtor;
Death, savage despot, hath caught his forfeit serf;
Death, blind foe, wreaketh petty vengeance on the flesh:
Death, fell cannibal, gloateth on his victim,
And carrieth it with him to the grave, that dismal banquet-hall,
Where in foul state the Royal Ghoul holdeth secret orgies.


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The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)