In Memoriam - Nicol Drysdale Stenhouse

A poem by Henry Kendall

Shall he, on whom the fair lord, Delphicus,
Turned gracious eyes and countenance of shine,
Be left to lie without a wreath from us,
To sleep without a flower upon his shrine?

Shall he, the son of that resplendent Muse,
Who gleams, high priestess of sweet scholarship,
Still slumber on, and every bard refuse
To touch a harp or move a tuneful lip?

No! let us speak, though feeble be our speech,
And let us sing, though faltering be our strain,
And haply echoes of the song may reach
And please the soul we cannot see again.

We sing the beautiful, the radiant life
That shone amongst us like the quiet moon,
A fine exception in this sphere of strife,
Whose time went by us like a hallowed tune.

Yon tomb, whereon the moonlit grasses sigh,
Hides from our view the shell of one whose days
Were set throughout to that grand harmony
Which fills all minor spirits with amaze.

This was the man whose dear, lost face appears
To rise betimes like some sweet evening dream,
And holy memories of faultless years,
And touching hours of quietness supreme.

He, having learned in full the golden rule,
Which guides great lives, stood fairly by the same,
Unruffled as the Oriental pool,
Before the bright, disturbing angel came.

In Learning’s halls he walked a leading lord,
He trod the sacred temple’s inner floors;
But kindness beamed in every look and word
He gave the humblest Levite at the doors.

When scholars poor and bowed beneath the ban,
Which clings as fire, were like to faint and fall,
This was the gentle, good Samaritan,
Who stopped and held a helping hand to all.

No term that savoured of unfriendliness,
No censure through those pure lips ever passed;
He saw the erring spirit’s keen distress,
And hoped for it, long-suffering to the last.

Moreover, in these days when Faith grows faint,
And Heaven seems blurred by speculation wild,
He, blameless as a mediaeval saint,
Had all the trust which sanctifies a child.

But now he sleeps, and as the years go by,
We’ll often pause above his sacred dust,
And think how grand a thing it is to die
The noble death which deifies the just.

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