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Poem by Francis Turner Palgrave


Mount Vernon


October 5: 1860

Before the hero's grave he stood,
--A simple stone of rest, and bare
To all the blessing of the air,--
And Peace came down in sunny flood
From the blue haunts of heaven, and smiled
Upon the household reconciled.

--A hundred years have hardly flown
Since in this hermitage of the West
'Mid happy toil and happy rest,
Loving and loved among his own,
His days fulfill'd their fruitful round,
Seeking no move than what they found.

Sweet byways of the life withdrawn!
Yet here his country's voice,--the cry
Of man for natural liberty,--
That great Republic in her dawn,
The immeasurable Future,--broke;
And to his fate the Leader woke.

Not eager, yet, the blade to bare
Before the Father-country's eyes,--
--E'en if a parent's rights, unwise,
With that bold Son he grudged to share,
In manhood strong beyond the sea,
And ripe to wed with Liberty!

--Yet O! when once the die was thrown,
With what unselfish patient skill,
Clear-piercing flame of changeless will,
The one high heart that moved alone
Sedate through the chaotic strife,--
He taught mankind the hero-life!

As when the God whom Pheidias moulds,
Clothed in marmoreal calm divine,
Veils all that strength 'neath beauty's line,
All energy in repose enfolds;--
So He, in self-effacement great,
Magnanimous to endure and wait.

O Fabius of a wider world!
Master of Fate through self-control
And utter stainlessness of soul!
And when war's weary sign was furl'd,
Prompt with both hands to welcome in
The white-wing'd Peace he warr'd to win!

Then, to that so long wish'd repose!
The liberal leisure of the farm,
The garden joy, the wild-wood charm;
Life ebbing to its perfect close
Like some white altar-lamp that pales
And self-consumed its light exhales.

No wrathful tempest smote its wing
Against life's tender flickering flame;
No tropic gloom in terror came;
Slow waning as a summer-spring
The soul breathed out herself, and slept,
And to the end her beauty kept.

Then, as a mother's love and fears
Throng round the child, unseen but felt,
So by his couch his nation knelt,
Loving and worshipping with her tears:--
Tears!--late amends for all that debt
Due to the Liberator yet!

For though the years their golden round
O'er all the lavish region roll,
And realm on realm, from pole to pole,
In one beneath thy stars be bound:
The far-off centuries as they flow,
No whiter name than this shall know!

--O larger England o'er the wave,
Larger, not greater, yet!--With joy
Of generous hearts ye hail'd the Boy
Who bow'd before the sacred grave,
With Love's fair freight across the sea
Sped from the Fatherland to thee!

And Freedom on that Empire-throne
Blest in his Mother's rule revered,
On popular love a kingdom rear'd,
And rooted in the years unknown,--
Land rich in old Experience' store
And holy legacies of yore,

And youth eternal, ever-new,--
From the high heaven look'd out:--and saw
This other later realm of Law,
Of that old household first-born true,
And lord of half a world!--and smiled
Upon the nations reconciled.



Francis Turner Palgrave


Francis Turner Palgrave's other poems:
  1. A Home in the Palace
  2. Alfred The Great
  3. Blenheim
  4. The PoetТs Euthanasia
  5. In the Valley of the Grande Chartreuse


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