(Westminster, October 12, 1892)
Great man of song, whose glorious laurelled head
Within the lap of death sleeps well at last,
Down the dark road, seeking the deathless dead,
Thy faithful, fearless, shining soul hath passed.
Fame blows his silver trumpet o'er thy sleep,
And Love stands broken by thy lonely lyre;
So pure the fire God gave this clay to keep,
The clay must still seem holy for the fire.
Poor dupes of sense, we deem the close-shut eye,
So faithful servant of his golden tongue,
Still holds the hoarded lights of earth and sky,
We deem the mouth still full of sleeping song.
We mourn as though the great good song he gave
Passed with the singer's own informing breath:
Ah, golden book, for thee there is no grave,
Thine is a rhyme that shall not taste of death.
Great wife of his great heart - 'tis yours to mourn,
Son well-beloved, 'tis yours, who loved him so:
But we! - hath death one perfect page out-torn
From the great song whereby alone we know
The splendid spirit imperiously shy, -
Husband to you and father - we afar
Hail poet of God, and name as one should cry:
'Yonder a king, and yonder lo! a star!'
So great his song we deem a little while
That Song itself with his great voice hath fled,
So grand the toga-sweep of his great style,
So vast the theme on which his song was fed.
One sings a flower, and one a face, and one
Screens from the world a corner choice and small,
Each toy its little laureate hath, but none
Sings of the whole: yea, only he sang all.
Poor little bards, so shameless in your care
To snatch the mighty laurel from his head,
Have you no fear, dwarfs in the giant's chair,
How men shall laugh, remembering the dead?
Great is advertisement! 'tis almost fate,
But, little mushroom-men, of puff-ball fame,
Ah, do you dream to be mistaken great
And to be really great are just the same?
Ah, fools! he was a laureate ere one leaf
Of the great crown had whispered on his brows;
Fame shrilled his song, Love carolled it, and Grief
Blessed it with tears within her lonely house.
Fame loved him well, because he loved not Fame,
But Peace and Love, all other things before,
A man was he ere yet he was a name,
His song was much because his love was more.