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Poem by Henry Cuyler Bunner


Smile on, thou new-come Springif on thy breeze
  The breath of a great man go wavering up
  And out of this world's knowledge, it is well.

Kindle with thy green flame the stricken trees,
  And fire the rose's many-petaled cup,
Let bough and branch with quickening life-blood swell
  But Death shall touch his spirit with a life
That knows not years or seasons. Oh, how small
  Thy little hour of bloom! Thy leaves shall fall,
And be the sport of winter winds at strife;
But he has taken on eternity.
Yea, of how much this Death doth set him free!
Now are we one to love him, once again.
The tie that bound him to our bitterest pain
Draws him more close to Love and Memory.

O Spring, with all thy sweetheart frolics, say,
  Hast thou remembrance of those earlier springs
When we wept answer to the laughing day,
  And turned aside from green and gracious things?

There was a sound of weeping over all
  Mothers uncomforted, for their sons were not;
  And there was crueler silence: tears grew hot
In the true eyes that would not let them fall.

Up from the South came a great wave of sorrow
  That drowned our hearthstones, splashed with blood our sills;
To-day, that spared, made terrible To-morrow
  With thick presentiment of coming ills.
Only we knew the Rightbut oh, how strong,
How pitiless, how insatiable the Wrong!

And then the quivering sword-hilt found a hand
That knew not how to falter or grow weak;
And we looked on, from end to end the land,
And felt the heart spring up, and rise afresh
The blood of courage to the whitened cheek,
And fire of battle thrill the numbing flesh.
Ay, there was death, and pain, and dear ones missed,
And lips forever to grow pale unkissed;
But lo, the man was here, and this was he;
And at his hands Faith gave us victory.

Spring, thy poor life, that mocks his body's death,
Is but a candle's flame, a flower's breath.
He lives in days that suffering made dear
Beyond all garnered beauty of the year.
He lives in all of us that shall outlive

The sensuous things that paltry time can give.
This Spring the spirit of his broken age
  Across the threshold of its anguish stole
All of him that was noble, fearless, sage,
  Lives in his loved nation's strengthened soul.

Henry Cuyler Bunner

Henry Cuyler Bunner's other poems:
  1. In a Paris Restaurant
  2. Shriven
  3. Just a Love Letter
  4. Candor
  5. Behold the Deeds!

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