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Lady Katherine Dyer's Poem

Situated inside St Denys Church, Colmworth, Bedfordshire – on the north wall by the altar is a sumptuous monument of alabaster and black marble erected by Lady Katherine Dyer in 1641 for her husband, Sir William Dyer. The poem is engraved on the monument: It consists of two verses. The second verse is probably the more well known:-

“My dearest dust, could not thy hasty day
Afford thy drowsy patience leave to stay
One hour longer, so that we might either
Have sat up or gone to bed together?
But since thy finished labour hath possessed
Thy weary limbs with early rest
Enjoy it sweetly, and thy widow bride
Shall soon repose her by thy slumbering side,
Whose business now is only to prepare
My nightly dress and call to prayer.
Mine eyes wax heavy, and the day grows old,
The dew falls thick, my blood grows cold.
Draw, draw the closed curtains and make room
My dear, my dearest dust, I come, I come.”

Under the canopy lie at two levels the effigies of Sir William and his wife.
Both of the effigies are excellent sculptures, accurately recording the ceremonial armour and the clothing of the time. Lady Katherine wears a dress with neatly laced bodice, topped with a wide linen collar and matching cuffs edged with a double border of lace. Her hair is beautifully styled of the period, and her head rests on a skull. The emblems on Sir William’s armour depict a ram’s head, shells and a leopard’s head.

Below on a panelled base are figures of ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ and between them stand the four sons and three daughters. Their attitudes are very effectively varied and the workmanship is far removed from the dull mechanical work so often found at the time. The girls are all dressed similarly in almost identical dresses to their mother. The sons show an interesting difference of dress: two appear to be dressed as Roundheads and two as Royalists! No wonder the daughters all hold a large handkerchief and appear to be weeping, for there must have been great sadness when a family was divided.

At the foot of Lady Katherine stands Henry, her grandson, who died in infancy, the only son of Sir Lodovic Dyer.

Adapted from the booklet ‘Know your Colmworth’ – a joint project between St Denys Church PCC, and the former Colmworth Lower School. Researched and written by Thelma Marks (1994).

A modern translation of the complete poem reads as follows:

A large heart joined with a noble mind
Showing true worth unto all good inclined.
If faith in friendship, justice unto all,
Leave such a memory as we may call.
Happy, thine is; then pious marble keep,
His just fame waking, though his love dost sleep.
And though death can devour, all that hath breath,
Nature shan’t suffer this, to ruinate,
Nor time demolished, nor an envious fate,
Raised by a just hand, not vain glorious pride,
Who be concealed, were it modesty to hide,
Such an affection did so long survive,
The object oft; yet loved it as alive,
And this great blessing to his name doth give
To make it by his tomb, and issue live.

My dearest dust, could not thy hasty day
Afford thy drowsy patience leave to stay
One hour longer, so that we might either
Have sat up or gone to bed together?
But since thy finished labour hath possessed
Thy weary limbs with early rest
Enjoy it sweetly, and thy widow bride
Shall soon repose her by thy slumbering side,
Whose business now is only to prepare
My nightly dress and call to prayer.
Mine eyes wax heavy, and the day grows old,
The dew falls thick, my blood grows cold.
Draw, draw the closed curtains and make room,
My dear, my dearest dust, I come, I come.