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G.D.W., by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: A little band of friends were we
Last Line: We give to thee our river god!
Subject(s): Wells, George D.


A little band of friends were we.
Together still by steep and stream
We wandered joyfully, and he
The leader of our faith and dream.

We broke the flower and bent the weed;
The berries caught, the river quaffed,
And if the world went wild indeed,
Looked in each other's eyes and laughed.

'Twas his to slight the louder world,
But for the brave, the fit, the few,
'Twas his to speak like torrents hurled;
'Twas mine to find their teachings true:

'Twas his to fathom Nature's hoards,
Her hidden deeps, her brightest sky;
And mine perhaps to tell in words
The visions of his wider eye.

And now we linger, one by one,
So vainly by the autumn boughs,
Or idly sit to weep, alone,
In the dark places of the house;

And yet beneath the altering leaf
We linger round his glorious trance,
And I remain to sing a grief
Beyond all rhyme or resonance.

What fitter earth to lay apart
Him whom we prized all price above?
Here are the hills that nursed his heart,
And here the valleys of his love.

So well he knew each watery nook,
Each greener cave, each grassier sod;
So bland and beautiful his look,
We called our friend the River god.

Here, where his early footsteps led,
Our friend, our hero, only ours,
Bury the fair victorious head!
And bid Columbia storm in showers

Her angry tears! a vengeful flood!
And claim her own with wail and shriek!
New England's best and brightest blood
Is scattered through that fatal week!

But here we find no battle stain
For drops of death or rainy grief,
The plaintive falling of the rain,
The glimmer of the wet red leaf.

Hushed are the horns, the bugle's call,
The harrowing trumpet's fierce despite,
The guns, the battering drums, and all
The tumult of the burial rite.

His river rolls as still it rolled:
No burdened murmur from its bed
Seems grieving for the heart of gold,
Seems mourning o'er the graceful head;

Yet Nature heeds--the faith he taught
Be ours, as in those earlier years,
And thoughts the offspring of his thought
Shall lie around his grave in tears.

All gracious emblems guard his rest:
Of inborn gifts, or cultured powers,
The natural oakleaves on his breast,
The cross of silvery outland flowers.

The long grass weeps, the high tree shower
His threads in mornings dim and damp,
And o'er him at the midnight hour
Great Lyra like a funeral lamp!

So much, yet more; our eyes swim dim--
So destitute in grief we live,
We cry "When we have given him,
What is there we have left to give?"

We give a life, a light removed:
Our idol whom our hearts have known,
The playmate whom the children loved,
The brother, son, and friend in one.

We give the Patriot, Soldier, Chief!
The grandest e'er these valleys trod--
O Father! with our noblest grief
We give to Thee our River god!





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