Gower's Head

A closeup of Gower's effgy. His tomb lies in Southwark Cathedral.

Gower most likely commissioned his own tomb. He chose to represent himself with his head resting on three books, which bear the titles of his major works: "Vox Clamantis" (written in Latin), "Speculum Meditantis" (or "Mirour de l'Omme," written in French), and "Confessio Amantis" (written in English).

Gower's Tomb

A view of the entire tomb as it looks today.

Rosamund Allen describes the tomb in this fasion: "It is a lasting memorial to a man who wrote in the three literary languages of late fourteenth-century England. Significantly, it bears inscriptions in the two languages which represent the higher linguistic registers: a Latin verse epitaph composed by Gower himself, three personifications bearing scrolls with Anglo-Norman prayers, and an inscriptions in Latin presenting Gower as both gentleman and, unusually, poet....[T]he tomb presents a double paradox. Gower's constant theme--'all things pass'---and his concluding moral in 'Confessio Amantis' are challenged, even negated in his tomb, which attests the eternally pristine quality of poetic fame in the face of worldly dissolution" ("Gower and Southwark," pg. 147).

Gower Effigy

Another closeup of the tomb effigy.

Again, Rosamund Allen: "Gower's bones have indeed been lost since the early nineteenth century or before, but his effigy, attired like a courtier-lover, like Amans in fact, was restored and repainted in 1958 in an approximation to its original form. In a much-changed and secularized locality, Gower's effigy, wearing a chaplet of roses, still gazes at a rose-strewn vault more emblematic of eternal youth than of the mysteries of heaven" (pg. 147).