Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IN MEMORIAM: ON THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT GARFIELD, by PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE



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IN MEMORIAM: ON THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT GARFIELD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I see the nation, as in antique ages
Last Line: Ah! In god's hand the nations are but -- dust!
Subject(s): Garfield, James Abram (1831-1881)


I SEE the Nation, as in antique ages,
Crouched with rent robes, and ashes on her head:
Her mournful eyes are deep with dark presages,
Her soul is haunted by a formless dread!

"O God!" she cries, "why hast Thou left me bleeding,
Wounded and quivering to the heart's hot core?
Can fervid faith, winged prayer, and anguished pleading
Win balm and pity from thy heavens no more?

"I knelt, I yearned, in agonizing passion,
Breathless to catch thy 'still small voice' from far;
Now thou hast answered, but in awful fashion,
And stripped our midnight of its last pale star.

"What tears are given me in o'ermastering measure,
From fathomless floods of Marah, darkly free,
While that pure life I held my noblest treasure
Is plunged forever in death's tideless sea!

"Hark to those hollow sounds of lamentation,
The muffled music, the funereal bell;
From far and wide on wings of desolation
Float wild and wailful voices of farewell.

"The North-land mourns her grief in full libation,
Outpoured for him who died at victory's goal;
And the great West, in solemn ministration,
May not recall her hero's shining soul.

"Yea, the North mourns; the West; a stricken mother,
Droops as in sackcloth with veiled brow and mouth;
And what old strifes, what waning hates, can smother
The generous heart-throbs of the pitying South?

"Did doubt remain? -- She crushed its latest ember
At that stern moment when the victim's fall
Changed loveliest summer to a grim December,
Paled by the hiss of Guiteau's murderous ball.

"Thus by the spell of one vast grief united
(Where cypress boughs their death-cold shadows wave),
My sons, I trust, a holier faith have plighted,
And sealed the compact by his sacred grave."
. . . . .
'Twas thus she spoke; but still in prostrate sorrow,
While lowlier earthward drooped her brow august.
To-day is dark; vague darkness vague darkness clouds to-morrow.
Ah! in God's hand the nations are but -- dust!





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