On The Death Of Charles Turner Torrey

A poem by James Russell Lowell

Woe worth the hour when it is crime
To plead the poor dumb bondman's cause,
When all that makes the heart sublime,
The glorious throbs that conquer time,
Are traitors to our cruel laws!

He strove among God's suffering poor
One gleam of brotherhood to send;
The dungeon oped its hungry door
To give the truth one martyr more,
Then shut,--and here behold the end!

O Mother State! when this was done,
No pitying throe thy bosom gave;
Silent thou saw'st the death-shroud spun,
And now thou givest to thy son
The stranger's charity,--a grave.

Must it be thus forever? No!
The hand of God sows not in vain,
Long sleeps the darkling seed below,
The seasons come, and change, and go,
And all the fields are deep with grain.

Although our brother lie asleep,
Man's heart still struggles, still aspires;
His grave shall quiver yet, while deep
Through the brave Bay State's pulses leap
Her ancient energies and fires.

When hours like this the senses' gush
Have stilled, and left the spirit room,
It hears amid the eternal hush
The swooping pinions' dreadful rush,
That bring the vengeance and the doom;--

Not man's brute vengeance, such as rends
What rivets man to man apart,--
God doth not so bring round his ends,
But waits the ripened time, and sends
His mercy to the oppressor's heart.

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