Friday, February 18, 2005

Poor Port

Recently I've been spending my lunch hour on a long walk. During the past few weeks, this has taken me up Harrow hill to the graveyard around St Mary's Church -- Byron's favourite spot and the place where his daughter is buried. I don't know how it is that I lived in Harrow for five years before discovering it.

Many of the inscriptions on the tombstones have worn away, particularly those further down the hill. However, a stone close to the church caught my eye:


To the memory of
THOMAS PORT


SON OF JOHN PORT OF BURTON UPON TRENT IN THE COUNTY OF STAFFORD, HAT MANUFACTURER, WHO NEAR THIS TOWN HAD BOTH HIS LEGS SEVERED FROM HIS BODY BY THE RAILWAY TRAIN. WITH THE GREATEST FORTITUDE HE BORE A SECOND AMPUTATION BY THE SURGEONS, AND DIED FROM LOSS OF BLOOD, AUGUST 7TH 1838, AGED 33 YEARS.

Bright rose the morn, and vig'rous rose poor Port.
Gay on the train, he used his wonted sport.
Ere noon arrived his mangled form they bore,
With pain distorted and o'erwhelmed with gore.
When evening came to close the fatal day,
A mutilated corpse the sufferer lay.

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