The iron-gate turns heavily upon its hinges with a jarring noise, and the dead enter the Tower of Silence. No roof the charnel-house has, no balcony, no corridor, no parlour. A circular enclosure, open to the sky, dreary and dreadful, it gives its inmates but a bare stony bed, with no pillow and no covering. On this grim house of gloom and darkness have settled desolation and death forever.
Hither are borne men and women and children, high and low, rich and poor, laymen and priest, friend and foe, master and servant, brave and coward and philanthropist and miser, strong and weak and righteous and wicked. In this abode of oblivion, sleep wealth with poverty, honour with shame, wisdom with folly, greatness with littleness, virtue with vice. Unequal in life, all lie equal in death. No mine, no thine, no his, no hers, all inseparable and undistinguishable, sleep side by side, partners and equals. Death levels here the high and low alike.
The ghastly and greedy vultures, arrayed on the round, high walls, are screaming and screeching and struggling and scrambling to pounce upon the new-coming guest of the dismal, dark place. Soon will they wildly scratch and scrape and tear with claws and beaks the corpse limb from limb. They will feast on the flesh tended with tender care and fatted with sumptuous food. They will make a meal of the flesh and crack the bones to suck the marrow from within. Denuded of the flesh, the dried bones of all classes and ranks will then jumble in a medley in the common well of obscurity, to crumble into dust by heat and cold and winds and rains, aided by time. The greatest and the mightiest and the best and the fairest will thus turn into a handful of dust and end in sepulchral nothingness.
Teach us all, O Teacher Divine, our varied lessons, humility to the haughty, solace and comfort to the poor and down-trodden, and a warning to the young and old that, bereft of goodness, hollow and empty are the pride of birth and pomp of power, and boast of beauty and arrogance of riches, a mockery of human vanity.