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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


Thomas Aquinas

By William Maginn (1794–1842)

  • Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, confessedly the most eminent of the schoolmen, died in 1274, at the Convent of Fossanova, near Terracina, where he had been compelled to stop by illness, while on his way to the second Council of Lyons, to which he was repairing by order of the Pope…. He had been educated at Cologne, under the tuition of Albert, called, by his contemporaries, the Great, on account of his scholastic attainments; and it is said that at the moment of Aquinas’s death, Albert, then eighty-four, was with his pupils at Cologne, when he suddenly burst into tears, and exclaimed that Aquinas was dead.

  • THE STUDIES were over, the volumes were closed,—

    Albertus the Great from his labors reposed;

    His table was laid by the banks of the Rhine,

    Gay laughed his young pupils, gay past round the wine.

    But why, on a sudden, has vanished his cheer?

    Why down the wise cheek gushes forth the sad tear?

    Why droops down in sorrow the hoary-locked head?

    “Ah! well may I weep,—for Aquinas is dead!

    “My pupils, dear pupils, don’t question to know

    How come to my heart these dark tidings of woe.

    Many tall mountains rise, many dark rivers roll,

    ’Tween Cologne and the spot where he renders his soul!

    But in far Fossanova I hear him declare

    That he feels his last haven of resting is there.

    I see him laid low on his pain-stricken bed,

    And e’en as I speak, my Aquinas is dead!

    “All Europe resounds with the pride of thy fame:

    All churchmen, all schoolmen, bend low at thy name;

    Wherever the wise or the learned may be,

    They humbly acknowledge their master in thee.

    And can I forget that with me was begun

    Thy bright course of glory, thou more than a son!

    That the tongue which with learning thy fresh spirit fed

    Now survives to declare that Aquinas is dead!

    “Thirty summers, my Thomas, have withered and past,

    Since I first saw thy figure,—tall, bony, and vast;

    When was yielded the hand that was meant for the sword,

    To labor in peace for the work of the Lord.

    When thy mother in tears to Saint Dominic gave

    The young Count of Aquino, the heir of the brave.

    Thy youth through the mazes of wisdom I led,—

    Why live I to say that Aquinas is dead?

    “I am proud to remember how, hour after hour,

    Beneath me thy mind budded forth like a flower;

    Till matured every talent, sublimed every thought,

    And thy teacher veiled cap to the boy he once taught,

    But the eye that was bright it was mine to see dim,

    Gray the once glossy lock, shrunk the giant-like limb

    Thou hast sunk in the light that thy genius has shed,

    And thy old master wails that Aquinas is dead.”