Sonnets - On The Death Of The Duke Of Wellington. (4)

A poem by Walter R. Cassels


The Land stood still to listen all that day,
And 'mid the hush of many a wrangling tongue,
Forth from the cannon's mouth the signal rung,
That from the earth a man had pass'd away--
A mighty Man, that over many a field
Roll'd back the tide of Battle on the foe,--
Thus far, no further, shall thy billows go.
Who Freedom's falchion did right nobly wield,
Like potter's vessel smiting Tyrants down,
And from Earth's strongest snatching Victory's crown;
Upon the anvil of each Battle-plain,
Still beating swords to ploughshares. All is past,--
The glory, and the labour, and the pain--
The Conqueror is conquer'd here at last.


Yet other men have wrought, and fought, and won,
Cutting with crimson sword Fame's Gordian knot,
And, dying, nations wonder'd--and forgot,--
But this Man's name shall circle with the sun;
And when our children's children feel the glow,
That ripens them unconsciously to men,
Asking, with upturn'd face, "What did he then?"
One answer from each quicken'd heart shall flow--
"This Man submerg'd the Doer in the Deed,
Toil'd on for Duty, nor of Fame took heed;
Hew'd out his name upon the great world's sides.
In sure-aim'd strokes of nobleness and worth,
And never more Time's devastating tides
Shall wear the steadfast record from the Earth."


This Duty, known and done, which all men praise,
Is it a thing for heroes utterly?
Or claims it aught, O Man! from thee and me,
Amid the sweat and grime of working days?
Stand forth, thou Conqueror, before God's throne,
Thou ruler, thou Earth-leader, great and strong,
Behold thy work, thy doing, labour'd long,
Before that mighty Presence little grown.
Stand forth, thou Man, low toiling 'mid the lees,
That measurest Duty out in poor degrees;
Are not all deeds, beside the deeds of Heaven,
But as the sands upon the ocean shore,
Which, softly breath'd on by God's winds, are driven
Into dim deserts, thenceforth seen no more!


Then make thou Life heroic, O! thou Man,
Though not in Earth's eyes, still in Heaven's, which see
Each task accomplish'd not in poor degree,
But as fain workings out of Duty's plan,--
The hewers and the drawers of the land,
No whit behind the mighty and the great,
Bearing unmoved the burden of the State,--
Alike each duty challenged at man's hand.
Life is built up of smallest atomics,
Pile upon pile the ramparts still increase,
And as those, Roman walls, o'er which in scorn
The scoffer leapt, soon held the world at bay,
So shall thy deeds of duty, lowly born,
Be thy strong tower and glory ere the set of day.

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