Christopher Pearse Cranch

(1815-1892 / the USA)

Broken Wings


GRAY-HEADED POETS, whom the full years bless
With life and health and chance still multiplied
To hold your forward course — fame and success
Close at your side;
Who easier won your bays because the fields
Lacked reapers; — time has been your helper long.
Rich are the crops your busy tillage yields —
Your arms still strong.
Honor to you, your talent and your truth.
As ye have soared and sung, still may ye sing!
Yet we remember some who fell in youth
With broken wing.
Names nigh forgotten now, by time erased,
Or else placarded o'er by those long known,
Had fate permitted, might they not have blazed
Beside your own?
Ah yes, due fame for all who have achieved;
And yet a thought for those who died too young —
Their green fruit dropped — their visions half conceived —
Their lays unsung!
A tribute song for them! Reach forth, renowned
And honored ones, from your green sunny glades,
And grasp their spirit-hands — the bards uncrowned
Amid the shades.
Not those whom glory follows to a bier
Enshrined in marble, decked with costly flowers.
The loud world speaks their praise from year to year.
They need not ours.
But for the dead whose promise failed through death,
The great who might have been — whose early bloom
Dropping like roses in the north-wind's breath,
Found but a tomb.
Yet it may be, in some bright land, unchecked
By fate — some fair Elysian field unknown,
Their brows by brighter laurel wreaths are decked —
Their seat a throne;
While spirits of the illustrious dead, the seers,
Prophets and poets of the olden days
Mingle, perchance, with theirs, as with their peers,
Immortal lays.

Submitted: Friday, September 24, 2010
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