In Memory Of John And Robert Ware

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

No mystic charm, no mortal art,
Can bid our loved companions stay;
The bands that clasp them to our heart
Snap in death's frost and fall apart;
Like shadows fading with the day,
They pass away.

The young are stricken in their pride,
The old, long tottering, faint and fall;
Master and scholar, side by side,
Through the dark portals silent glide,
That open in life's mouldering wall
And close on all.

Our friend's, our teacher's task was done,
When Mercy called him from on high;
A little cloud had dimmed the sun,
The saddening hours had just begun,
And darker days were drawing nigh:
'T was time to die.

A whiter soul, a fairer mind,
A life with purer course and aim,
A gentler eye, a voice more kind,
We may not look on earth to find.
The love that lingers o'er his name
Is more than fame.

These blood-red summers ripen fast;
The sons are older than the sires;
Ere yet the tree to earth is cast,
The sapling falls before the blast;
Life's ashes keep their covered fires, -
Its flame expires.

Struck by the noiseless, viewless foe,
Whose deadlier breath than shot or shell
Has laid the best and bravest low,
His boy, all bright in morning's glow,
That high-souled youth he loved so well,
Untimely fell.

Yet still he wore his placid smile,
And, trustful in the cheering creed
That strives all sorrow to beguile,
Walked calmly on his way awhile
Ah, breast that leans on breaking reed
Must ever bleed!

So they both left us, sire and son,
With opening leaf, with laden bough
The youth whose race was just begun,
The wearied man whose course was run,
Its record written on his brow,
Are brothers now.

Brothers! - The music of the sound
Breathes softly through my closing strain;
The floor we tread is holy ground,
Those gentle spirits hovering round,
While our fair circle joins again
Its broken chain.

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