Achilles came from Homer's Jove-like brain,
Pavilioned 'mid his ships where Thetis trod;
But he whose image dominates this plain
Came from the hand of God!
Yet, of his life, which shall all time adorn
I dare not sing; to try the theme would be
To drink as 'twere that Scandinavian Horn
Whose tip was in the Sea.
I bow my head and go upon my ways,
Who tells that story can but gild the gold -
Could I pile Alps on Apennines of praise
The tale would not be told.
Not his the blade which lyric fables say
Cleft Pyrenees from ridge to nether bed,
But his the sword which cleared the Sacred Way
For Freedom's feet to tread.
Not Caesar's genius nor Napoleon's skill
Gave him proud mast'ry o'er the trembling earth;
But great in honesty, and sense and will -
He was the "man of worth."
He knew not North, nor South, nor West, nor East:
Childless himself, Father of States he stood,
Strong and sagacious as a Knight turned Priest,
And vowed to deeds of good.
Compared with all Earth's heroes I may say
He was, with even half his virtues hid,
Greater in what his hand refrained than they
Were great in what they did.
And thus his image dominates all time,
Uplifted like the everlasting dome
Which rises in a miracle sublime
Above eternal Rome.
On Rome's once blooming plain where'er we stray
That dome majestic rises on the view,
Its Cross a-glow with every wandering ray
That shines along the Blue.
So his vast image shadows all the lands,
So holds forever Man's adoring eye,
And o'er the Union which he left it stands
Our Cross against the sky!