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And breathing on the base rejected clay
Till each dark face shone mystical and grand
Against the breaking day;
And lo, the shard the potter cast away
Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine,
Fulfilled of the divine
Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed
Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light,
Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed,
Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed-
They swept and died like freemen on the height,
Like freemen, and like men of noble breed;
And when the battle fell away at night
By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust
Obscurely in a common grave with him
The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb
In nature's busy old democracy
To flush the mountain laurel when she blows
Sweet by the southern sea,
And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose :-
The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew
This mountain fortress for no earthly hold
Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old
Of spiritual wrong,
Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong,
Expugnable but by a nation's rue
And bowing down before that equal shrine
By all men held divine,
Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
On the Unveiling of the Shaw Memorial on Boston
Common, May 31, 1897
Not with slow, funereal sound
Come we to this sacred ground; Not with wailing fife and solemn muffled drum,
Bringing a cypress wreath
To lay, with bended knee,
On the cold brows of Death
Not so, dear God, we come,
But with the trumpets' blare
And shot-torn battle-banners flung to air,
As for a victory!
Hark to the measured tread of martial feet,
The music and the murmurs of the street!
No bugle breathes this day
Disaster and retreat!
Hark, how the iron lips
Of the great battleships
Salute the City from her azure Bay!
Time was time was, ah, unforgotten years!
We paid our hero tribute of our tears.
But now let go
By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
All sounds and signs and formulas of woe:
'Tis Life, not Death, we celebrate;
To Life, not Death, we dedicate
This storied bronze, whereon is wrought
The lithe immortal figure of our thought,
To show forever to men's eyes,
Our children's children's children's eyes,
How once he stood
In that heroic mood,
He and his dusky braves
So fain of glorious graves !-
One instant stood, and then
Drave through that cloud of purple steel and flame,
Which wrapt him, held him, gave him not again,
But in its trampled ashes left to Fame
An everlasting name!
That was indeed to live-
At one bold swoop to wrest
From darkling death the best
That death to life can give.
He fell as Roland fell
That day at Roncevaux,
With foot upon the ramparts of the foe!
A pæan, not a knell,
For heroes dying so!
No need for sorrow here,
No room for sigh or tear,
Save such rich tears as happy eyelids know.
See where he rides, our Knight!
Within his eyes the light
Of battle, and youth's gold about his brow;
Our Paladin, our Soldier of the Cross,
Not weighing gain with loss-
World-loser, that won all
Obeying duty's call!
Not his, at peril's frown,
A pulse of quicker beat;
Not his to hesitate
And parley hold with Fate,
But proudly to fling down
His gauntlet at her feet.
O soul of loyal valor and white truth,
Here, by this iron gate,
Thy serried ranks about thee as of yore,
Stand thou for evermore
In thy undying youth!
The tender heart, the eagle eye!
Oh, unto him belong
The homages of Song;
Our praises and the praise
Of coming days
To him belong-
To him, to him, the dead that shall not die!
Once this soft turf, this rivulet's sands,
Were trampled by a hurrying crowd, And fiery hearts and armed hands
Encountered in the battle-cloud.
Ah! never shall the land forget
How gushed the life-blood of her braveGushed, warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought to save. Now all is calm, and fresh, and still;
Alone the chirp of flitting bird, And talk of children on the hill,
And bell of wandering kine are heard. No solemn host goes trailing by
The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain; Men start not at the battle-cry,
Oh, be it never heard again!
Soon rested those who fought; but thou
Who minglest in the harder strife
For truths which men receive not now,
Thy warfare only ends with life.
A friendless warfare! lingering long
Through weary day and weary year,
A wild and many-weaponed throng
.Hang on thy front, and flank, and rear.
Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof,
And blench not at thy chosen lot. The timid good may stand aloof,
The sage may frown-yet faint thou not.
Nor heed the shaft too surely cast,
The foul and hissing bolt of scorn; For with thy side shall dwell, at last,
The victory of endurance born.