Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BURIAL OF WEBSTER, by ELIZABETH DOTEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BURIAL OF WEBSTER, by            
First Line: Low and solemn be the requiem above the nation's / dead
Last Line: And future generations shall honor webster's name!
Alternate Author Name(s): Doten, Lizzie
Subject(s): Death; Funerals; Heaven; Dead, The; Burials; Paradise

LOW and solemn be the requiem above the nation's dead;
Let fervent prayers be uttered, and farewell blessings said!
Close by the sheltering homestead, beneath the household tree,
Where oft his footsteps lingered, here let the parting be!
Draw near in solemn silence, with slow and measured tread;
Come with the brow uncovered, and gaze upon the dead!
How like a fallen hero, in silent rest he lies!
With the seal of Death upon him, and its dimness in his eyes!
Speak! but there comes no answer. That voice of power is still
Which woke the slumbering Senate as with a giant's will!—
That voice, which rang so proudly back from the echoing walls,
In court and civic council, and legislative halls;
Which summoned back those spirits, who long were mute and still,—
The Pilgrim sires of Plymouth—the dead of Bunker Hill,—
And in their silent presence gave to the past a tongue
Like that which roused the nations when Freedom's war-cry rung.
But now, the roar of cannon, the thunder of the deep,
The battle-shock of earthquakes, cannot wake him from his sleep!
The foot that trod so proudly upon the earth's green sod,
The manly form, created in the image of its God,
The brow, where mental greatness had set her noblest seal,
The lip, whence thoughts were uttered like shafts of polished steel,—
All, all of these shall moulder back to their parent earth,
Back to the silent bosom from whence they sprang to birth!
The man,—the living Webster,—passed with a fleeting breath!
Alas, for human greatness!—the end thereof is death!
O! what is earthly glory? Ask Cæsar, when he fell
At the base of Pompey's statue, slain by those he loved too well;
Ask the Carthaginian hero, who kept his fearful vow;
Ask Napoleon in his exile; ask the dead before ye now;—
And one answer, and one only, in the light of truth is given:
"Man's highest earthly glory is to do the will of Heaven;
To rise and battle bravely, with dauntless moral might,
In the holy cause of Freedom, and the triumph of the Right!"
For by this simple standard shall all at last be tried,
And not by earthly glory, or works of human pride.

O Webster! thou wast mighty among thy fellowmen;
And he who seeks to judge thee must be what thou hast been;—
Must feel thine aspirations for higher aims in life,
And know the stern temptations that urged thee in the strife;
Must let his heart flow largely from out its narrow span,
And meet thee freely, fairly, as man should meet with man.
What was lost, and what resisted, is known to One alone:
Then let him who stands here guiltless "be first to cast a stone"!

Farewell! We give, with mourning, back to thy mother Earth
The robes thy soul rejected at its celestial birth!
A mightier one and stronger may stand where thou wast tried,
Yet he shall be the wiser that thou hast lived and died;
Thy greatness be his glory, thine errors let him shun,
And let him finish nobly what thou hast left undone.

Farewell! The granite mountains, the hill-side, and the sea,
Thy harvest-fields and orchards, will all lament for thee!
Farewell! A mighty nation awards thee deathless fame,
And future generations shall honor WEBSTER'S name!

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