« ПретходнаНастави »
Not down through flowery meads,
To reap an aftermath
Of youth s vainglorious weeds,
But up the steep, amid the wrath
And shock of deadly-hostile creeds,
Where the world's best hope and stay
By battle's flashes gropes a desperate way,
And every turf the fierce foot clings to bleeds.
Peace hath her not ignoble wreath,
Ere yet the sharp, decisive word
Light the black lips of cannon, and the sword
Dreams in its easeful sheath ;
But some day the live coal behind the thought,
Whether from Baäl's stone obscene,
Or from the shrine serene
Of God's pure altar brought,
Bursts up in flame; the war of tongue and pen
Learns with what deadly purpose it was fraught,
And, helpless in the fiery passion caught,
Shakes all the pillared state with shock of men :
Some day the soft Ideal that we wooed
Confronts us fiercely, foe-beset, pursued,
And cries reproachsul : “Was it, then, my praise,
And not myself was loved ? Prove now thy truth;
I claim of thee the promise of thy youth ;
Give me thy life, or cower in empty phrase,
The victim of thy genius, not its mate !”
Life may be given in many ways,
And loyalty to Truth be sealed
As bravely in the closet as the field,
So bountiful is Fate;
But then to stand beside her,
When craven churls deride her,
To front a lie in arms and not to yield,
This shows, methinks, God's plan
And measure of a stalwart man,
Limbed like the old heroic breeds,
Who stand self-poised on manhood's solid earth,
Not forced to frame excuses for his birth,
Fed from within with all the strength he needs.
Such was he, our Martyr-Chief,
Whom late the Nation he had led,
With ashes on her head,
Wept with the passion of an angry grief ;
Forgive me, if from present things I turn
To speak what in my heart will beat and burn,
And hang my wreath on his world-honoured urn.
Nature, they say, doth dote,
And cannot make a man
Save on some worn-out plan,
Repeating us by rote :
For him her Old World moulds aside she threw,
And, choosing sweet clay from the breast
Of the unexhausted West,
With stuff untainted shaped a hero new,
Wise, steadfast in the strength of God, and true.
How beautiful to see
Once more a shepherd of mankind indeed,
Who loved his charge, but never loved to lead ;
One whose meek flock the people joyed to be,
Not lured by any cheat of birth,
But by his clear-grained human worth, And brave old wisdom of sincerity!
They knew that outward grace is dust ;
They could not choose but trust
In that sure-footed mind's unfaltering skill,
And supple-tempered will
That bent like perfect steel to spring again and thrust.
His was no lonely mountain-peak of mind,
Thrusting to thin air o'er our cloudy bars,
A sea-mark now, now lost in vapours blind ;
Broad prairie rather, genial, level-lined,
Fruitful and friendly for all human kind,
Yet also nigh to heaven and loved of loftiest stars.
Nothing of Europe here,
Or, then, of Europe fronting mornward still,
Ere any names of Serf and Peer
Could Nature's equal scheme deface ;
Here was a type of the true elder race,
And one of Plutarch's men talked with us face to face.
I praise him not; it were too late ;
And some innative weakness there must be
In him who condecends to victory
Such as the Present gives, and cannot wait,
Safe in himself as in a fate.
So always firmly he ;
He knew to bide his time,
And can his fame abide,
Still patient in his simple faith sublime,
Till the wise
decide. Great captains, with their guns and drums,
Disturb our judgment for the hour,
But at last silence comes;
These all are gore, and standing like a tower,
Our children shall behold his fame,
The kindly earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
New birth of our new soil, the first American.
Long as man's hope insatiate can discern
Or only guess some more inspiring goal
Outside of Self, enduring as the pole,
Along whose course the flying axles burn
Of spirits bravely-pitched, earth's manlier brood;
Long as below we cannot find
The meed that stills the inexorable mind :
So long this faith to some ideal Good,
Under whatever mortal names it masks,
Freedom, Law, Country, this ethereal mood
That thanks the Fates for their severer tasks,
Feeling its challenged pulses leap,
While others skulk in subterfuges cheap,
And, set in Danger's van, has all the boon it asks,
Shall win man's praise and woman's love,
Shall be a wisdom that we set above All other skills and gifts to culture dear,
A virtue round whose forehead we inwreathe Laurels that with a living passion breathe When other crowns grow, while we twine them, sear,
What brings us thronging these high rites to pay,
And seal these hours the noblest of our year,
Save that our brothers found this better way?
We sit here in the Promised Land
That flows with Freedom's honey and milk ;
But 'twas they won it, sword in hand,
Making the nettle danger soft for us as silk.
We welcome back our bravest and our best
Ah me! not all! some come not with the rest,
Who went forth brave and bright as any here !
I strive to mix some gladness with my strain,
But the sad strings complain,
And will not please the ear :
I sweep them for a pæan, but they wane
Again and yet again
Into a dirge, and die away, in pain.
In these brave ranks I only see the gaps,
Thinking of dear ones whom the dumb turf wraps,
Dark to the triumph which they died to gain :
Fitlier may others greet the living,
For me the past is unforgiving ;
I with uncovered head
Salute the sacred dead,
Who went, and who return not.-Say not so !
'Tis not the grapes of Canaan that repay,
But the high faith that failed not by the way;
Virtue treads paths that end not in the grave;
No bar of endless night exiles the brave;
And to the saner mind
We rather seem the dead that stayed behind.
Blow, trumpets, all your exultations blow!
For never shall their aureoled presence lack :
I see them muster in a gleaming row,
With ever-youthful brows that nobler show ;
We find in our dull road their shining track ;
In every nobler mood
We feel the orient of their spirit glow,
Part of our life's unalterable good,
Of all our saintlier aspiration ;
They come transfigured back,
Secure from change in their high-hearted ways,
Beautiful evermore, and with the rays
Of morn on their white Shields of Expectation !
But is there hope to save
Even this ethereal essence from the grave ?
What ever 'scaped Oblivion's subtle wrong
Save a few clarion names, or golden threads of song?
Before my musing eye
The mighty ones of old sweep by,
Disvoicèd now and insubstantial things,
As noisy once as we; poor ghosts of kiugs,
Shadows of empire wholly gone to dust,
And many races, nameless long ago,
To darkness driven by that imperious gust
Of ever-rushing Time that here doth blow :
O visionary world, condition strange,
Where naught abiding is but only Change,
Where the deep-bolted stars themselyes still shift and range ;
Shall we to more continuance make pretence ?
Renown builds tombs; a life-estate is Wit ;
And, bit by bit,
The cunning years steal all from us but woe;
Leaves are we, whose decays no harvest sow.
But, when we vanish hence,
Shall they lie forceless in the dark below,
Save to make green their little length of sods,
Or deepen pansies for a year or two,
Who now to us are shining-sweet as gods ?
Was dying all they had the skill to do?
That were not fruitless : but the Soul resents
Such short-lived service, as if blind events
Ruled without her, or earth could so endure;
She claims a more divine investiture
Of longer tenure than Fame's airy rents ;
Whate'er she touches doth her nature share ;
Her inspiration haunts the ennobled air,
Gives eyes to mountains blind,
Ears to the deaf earth, voices to the wind,
And her clear trump sings succour everywhere
By lonely bivouacs to the wakeful mind;
For soul inherits all that soul could dare :
Yea, Manhood hath a wider span
And larger privilege of life than man.
The single deed, the private sacrifice,
So radiant now through proudly-hidden tears,
Is covered up erelong from mortal eyes
With thoughtless drift of the deciduous years ;
But that high privilege that makes all men peers,
That leap of heart whereby a people rise
Up to a noble anger's height,
And, flamed on by the Fates, not shrink, but grow more
That swift validity in noble veins,
Of choosing danger and disdaining shame,
Of being set on flame
By the pure fire that flies all contact base,
But wraps its chosen with angelic might,
These are imperishable gains,
Sure as the sun, medicinal as light,
These hold great futures in their lusty reins And certify to earth a new imperial raee.
Who now shall sneer?
Who dare again to say we trace
Our lines to a plebeian race?
Roundhead and Cavalier !
Dumb are those names erewhile in battle loud ;
Dream-footed as the shadow of a cloud,