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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Rossiter Johnson (1840–1931)

[Born in Rochester, N. Y., 1840. Died, 1931. Idler and Poet. 1883.]

HE came in the glory of summer; in the terror of summer he went:

Like a blossom the breezes have wafted; like a bough that the tempest has rent.

His blue eyes unclosed in the morning, his brown eyes were darkened at morn,

And the durance of pain could not banish the beauty wherewith he was born.

He came—can we ever forget it, while the years of our pilgrimage roll?—

He came in thine anguish of body, he passed ’mid our anguish of soul.

He brought us a pride and a pleasure, he left us a pathos of tears:

A dream of impossible futures, a glimpse of uncalendared years.

His voice was a sweet inspiration, his silence a sign from afar;

He made us the heroes we were not, he left us the cowards we are.

For the moan of the heart follows after his clay, with perpetual dole,

Forgetting the torture of body is lost in the triumph of soul.

A man in the world of his cradle, a sage in his infantine lore,

He was brave in the might of endurance, was patient,—and who can be more?

He had learned to be shy of the stranger, to welcome his mother’s warm kiss,

To trust in the arms of his father,—and who can be wiser than this?

The lifetime we thought lay before him, already was rounded and whole,

In dainty completeness of body and wondrous perfection of soul.

The newness of love at his coming, the freshness of grief when he went,

The pitiless pain of his absence, the effort at argued content,

The dim eye forever retracing the few little footprints he made,

The quick thought forever recalling the visions that never can fade,—

For these but one comfort, one answer, in faith’s or philosophy’s roll:

Came to us for a pure little body, went to God for a glorified soul.