James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Morton


The warm pulse of the nation has grown chill;
The muffled heart of Freedom, like a knell,
Throbs solemnly for one whose earthly will
Wrought every mission well.

Whose glowing reason towered above the sea
Of dark disaster like a beacon light,
And led the Ship of State, unscathed and free,
Out of the gulfs of night.

When Treason, rabid-mouthed, and fanged with steel,
Lay growling o'er the bones of fallen braves,
And when beneath the tyrant's iron heel
Were ground the hearts of slaves,

And War, with all his train of horrors, leapt
Across the fortress-walls of Liberty
With havoc e'en the marble goddess wept
With tears of blood to see.

Throughout it all his brave and kingly mind
Kept loyal vigil o'er the patriot's vow,
And yet the flag he lifted to the wind
Is drooping o'er him now.

And Peace--all pallid from the battle-field
When first again it hovered o'er the land
And found his voice above it like a shield,
Had nestled in his hand.

. . . . . . . .

O throne of State and gilded Senate halls--
Though thousands throng your aisles and galleries--
How empty are ye! and what silence falls
On your hilarities!

And yet, though great the loss to us appears,
The consolation sweetens all our pain--
Though hushed the voice, through all the coming years
Its echoes will remain.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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