The Last Look

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

W. W. Swain

Behold - not him we knew!
This was the prison which his soul looked through,
Tender, and brave, and true.

His voice no more is heard;
And his dead name - that dear familiar word -
Lies on our lips unstirred.

He spake with poet's tongue;
Living, for him the minstrel's lyre was strung:
He shall not die unsung.

Grief tried his love, and pain;
And the long bondage of his martyr-chain
Vexed his sweet soul, - in vain!

It felt life's surges break,
As, girt with stormy seas, his island lake,
Smiling while tempests wake.

How can we sorrow more?
Grieve not for him whose heart had gone before
To that untrodden shore!

Lo, through its leafy screen,
A gleam of sunlight on a ring of green,
Untrodden, half unseen!

Here let his body rest,
Where the calm shadows that his soul loved best
May slide above his breast.

Smooth his uncurtained bed;
And if some natural tears are softly shed,
It is not for the dead.

Fold the green turf aright
For the long hours before the morning's light,
And say the last Good Night!

And plant a clear white stone
Close by those mounds which hold his loved, his own, -
Lonely, but not alone.

Here let him sleeping lie,
Till Heaven's bright watchers slumber in the sky
And Death himself shall die!

Naushon, September 22, 1858.

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