William Francis Bartlett

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

Oh, well may Essex sit forlorn
Beside her sea-blown shore;
Her well beloved, her noblest born,
Is hers in life no more!

No lapse of years can render less
Her memory's sacred claim;
No fountain of forgetfulness
Can wet the lips of Fame.

A grief alike to wound and heal,
A thought to soothe and pain,
The sad, sweet pride that mothers feel
To her must still remain.

Good men and true she has not lacked,
And brave men yet shall be;
The perfect flower, the crowning fact,
Of all her years was he!

As Galahad pure, as Merlin sage,
What worthier knight was found
To grace in Arthur's golden age
The fabled Table Round?

A voice, the battle's trumpet-note,
To welcome and restore;
A hand, that all unwilling smote,
To heal and build once more;

A soul of fire, a tender heart
Too warm for hate, he knew
The generous victor's graceful part
To sheathe the sword he drew.

When Earth, as if on evil dreams,
Looks back upon her wars,
And the white light of Christ outstreams
From the red disk of Mars,

His fame who led the stormy van
Of battle well may cease,
But never that which crowns the man
Whose victory was Peace.

Mourn, Essex, on thy sea-blown shore
Thy beautiful and brave,
Whose failing hand the olive bore,
Whose dying lips forgave!

Let age lament the youthful chief,
And tender eyes be dim;
The tears are more of joy than grief
That fall for one like him!

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