Alas, My Brother!

A poem by Nora Pembroke

(P McD)

We waited for him, and the anxious days
Melted to years and floated slowly by
We spoke of him kind words of lofty praise,
Of yearning love and tender sympathy.

We laid by what was his with reverent care--
Started in dreams to greet him coming home--
But hope deferred left no relief but prayer,
And heart-sore longings breathed in one word--Come.

We never dreamed of murderous ambush laid
By savage redskins greedy for the prey--
Of him, our darling, in the forest laid
Alone, alone, ebbing his life away.

He who would not have harmed the meanest thing,
Who carried gentleness to such excess
That, to the stranger and the suffering,
His purse meant help, his touch was a caress.

Ah me! that cruel far off land of gold,
That lured him off beyond the ocean foam,
To roam a stranger among strangers cold--
His blank life only cheered by news from home.

The home that he was never more to see,
While yet his heart was planning his return,
Short, sharp and swift the message came, and he
Passed to his long home o'er the mystic bourne.

And while we watched for him the grass was green
Upon his grave, swept by the summer air;
There grow strange flowers--passes the hunter keen,
The stately caribou and grizly bear.

But never more his mother's eyes he'll bless,
Or with a fond embrace his sisters meet;
No brother's hand will he in welcome press,
Nor his hound's bay tell of his coming feet.

To us remains the mourner's never more,
And aching hearts and eyes with sorrow dim;
Thou who at Bethany their sorrow bore,
Draw nigh us also while we weep for him.

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