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I scanned the festering news we half despise

Yet scramble for no less, And read of public scandal, private fraud, Crime flaunting scot-free while the mob applaud,

Office made vile to bribe unworthiness,

And all the unwholesome mess

The Land of Honest Abraham serves of late

To teach the Old World how to wait,
When suddenly,

As happens if the brain, from overweight
Of blood, infect the eye,
Three tiny words grew lurid as I read,
And reeled commingling: Agassiz is dead.
As when, beneath the street's familiar jar,
An earthquake's alien omen rumbles far,
Men listen and forebode, I hung my head,
And strove the present to recall,
As if the blow that stunned were yet to


Uprooted is our mountain oak, That promised long security of shade And brooding-place for many a winged thought;

Not by Time's softly-cadenced stroke With pauses of relenting pity stayed, But ere a root seemed sapt, a bough decayed,

From sudden ambush by the whirlwind caught

And in his broad maturity betrayed!


Well might I, as of old, appeal to you, O mountains woods and streams,

To help us mourn him, for ye loved him too;

But simpler moods befit our modern themes,

And no less perfect birth of nature can, Though they yearn tow'rd him, sympathize with man,

Save as dumb fellow-prisoners through a wall;

Answer ye rather to my call, Strong poets of a more unconscious day, When Nature spake nor sought nice reasons why,

Too much for softer arts forgotten since That teach our forthright tongue to lisp and mince,

And drown in music the heart's bitter cry! Lead me some steps in your directer way, Teach me those words that strike a solid root

Within the ears of men;

Ye chiefly, virile both to think and feel, Deep-chested Chapman and firm-footed Ben,

For he was masculine from head to heel. Nay, let himself stand undiminished by With those clear parts of him that will not


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Man's web of circumstance and fate They from their perch of self observe, Indifferent as the figures on a slate

Are to the planet's sun-swung curve Whose bright returns they calculate; Their nice adjustment, part to part, Were shaken from its serviceable mood By unpremeditated stirs of heart

Or jar of human neighborhood: Some find their natural selves, and only then,

In furloughs of divine escape from men, And when, by that brief ecstasy left bare,

Driven by some instinct of desire, They wander worldward, 't is to blink and stare,

Like wild things of the wood about a fire, Dazed by the social glow they cannot share;

His nature brooked no lonely lair, But basked and bourgeoned in copartnery, Companionship, and open-windowed glee: He knew, for he had tried, Those speculative heights that lure The unpractised foot, impatient of a guide, Tow'rd ether too attenuately pure For sweet unconscious breath, though dear to pride,

But better loved the foothold sure Of paths that wind by old abodes of men Who hope at last the churchyard's peace


And follow time-worn rules, that them suffice,

Learned from their sires, traditionally wise, Careful of honest custom's how and when; His mind, too brave to look on Truth


No more those habitudes of faith could share,

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Virtues and faults it to one metal wrought, Fined all his blood to thought, And ran the molten man in all he said or did.

All Tully's rules and all Quintilian's too He by the light of listening faces knew, And his rapt audience all unconscious lent Their own roused force to make him eloquent;

Persuasion fondled in his look and tone; Our speech (with strangers prudish) he could bring

To find new charm in accents not her own;
Her coy constraints and icy hindrances
Melted upon his lips to natural ease,
As a brook's fetters swell the dance of

Nor yet all sweetness: not in vain he wore,
Nor in the sheath of ceremony, controlled
By velvet courtesy or caution cold,
That sword of honest anger prized of old,
But, with two-handed wrath,
If baseness or pretension crossed his path,
Struck once nor needed to strike more.

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Him most I see whom we most dearly miss,
The latest parted thence,

His features poised in genial armistice
And armed neutrality of self-defence
Beneath the forehead's walled preeminence,
While Tyro, plucking facts with careless

Settles off-hand our human how and whence; The long-trained veteran scarcely wincing hears

The infallible strategy of volunteers Making through Nature's walls its easy breach,

And seems to learn where he alone could teach.

Ample and ruddy, the board's end he fills As he our fireside were, our light and heat, Centre where minds diverse and various

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Yea truly, as the sallowing years

Fall from us faster, like frost-loosened leaves

Pushed by the misty touch of shortening days,

And that unwakened winter nears, "T is the void chair our surest guest receives,

'T is lips long cold that give the warmest kiss,

'T is the lost voice comes oftenest to our ears;

We count our rosary by the beads we miss:

To me, at least, it seemeth so,

An exile in the land once found divine,
While my starved fire burns low,
And homeless winds at the loose casement

Shrill ditties of the snow-roofed Apennine.

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The long red streamers from the windows glide,

Or the dim western moon Rocks her skiff's image on the broad lagoon, And Boston shows a soft Venetian side In that Arcadian light when roof and tree, Hard prose by daylight, dream in Italy; Or haply in the sky's cold chambers wide Shivered the winter stars, while all below, As if an end were come of human ill, The world was wrapt in innocence of snow And the cast-iron bay was blind and still; These were our poetry; in him perhaps Science had barred the gate that lets in dream,

And he would rather count the perch and bream

Than with the current's idle fancy lapse;
And yet he had the poet's open eye
That takes a frank delight in all it sees,
Nor was earth voiceless, nor the mystic sky,
To him the life-long friend of fields and

Then came the prose of the suburban street,
Its silence deepened by our echoing feet,
And converse such as rambling hazard finds;
Then he who many cities knew and many

And men once world - noised, now mere Ossian forms

Of misty memory, bade them live anew As when they shared earth's manifold delight,

In shape, in gait, in voice, in gesture true, And, with an accent heightening as he

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Our practical horizon grimly pent,
Our air, sincere of ceremonious haze,
Forcing hard outlines mercilessly close,
Our social monotone of level days,
Might make our best seem banish-

But it was nothing so;
Haply his instinct might divine,
Beneath our drift of puritanic snow,
The marvel sensitive and fine
Of sanguinaria over-rash to blow
And trust its shyness to an air malign;
Well might he prize truth's warranty
and pledge

In the grim outcrop of our granite edge, Or Hebrew fervor flashing forth at need In the gaunt sons of Calvin's iron breed, As prompt to give as skilled to win and


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