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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

Central America: Nicaragua

Walker’s Grave

By Joaquin Miller (1837–1913)

(From With Walker in Nicaragua)

I LAY this crude wreath on his dust,

Inwove with sad, sweet memories

Recalled here by these colder seas.

I leave the wild bird with his trust,

To sing and say him nothing wrong;

I wake no rivalry of song.

He lies low in the levelled sand,

Unsheltered from the tropic sun,

And now of all he knew not one

Will speak him fair in that far land.

Perhaps ’t was this that made me seek,

Disguised, his grave one winter-tide;

A weakness for the weaker side,

A siding with the helpless weak.

A palm not far held out a hand,

Hard by a long green bamboo swung,

And bent like some great bow unstrung,

And quivered like a willow wand;

Beneath a broad banana’s leaf,

Perched on its fruits that crooked hang,

A bird in rainbow splendor sang

A low sad song of tempered grief.

No sod, no sign, no cross nor stone,

But at his side a cactus green

Upheld its lances long and keen;

It stood in hot red sands alone,

Flat-palmed and fierce with lifted spears;

One bloom of crimson crowned its head,

A drop of blood, so bright, so red,

Yet redolent as roses’ tears.

In my left hand I held a shell,

All rosy lipped and pearly red;

I laid it by his lowly bed,

For he did love so passing well

The grand songs of the solemn sea.

O shell! sing well, wild, with a will,

When storms blow loud and birds be still,

The wildest sea-song known to thee!

I said some things, with folded hands,

Soft whispered in the dim sea-sound,

And eyes held humbly to the ground,

And frail knees sunken in the sands.

He had done more than this for me,

And yet I could not well do more:

I turned me down the olive shore,

And set a sad face to the sea.