Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
On the Death of Harrison
A WAIL! a plaintive, wide, and fearful wail!
  The air is full of deep and sickening wo;
A nation’s eyes are dim, their faces pale,
  The chosen of their hearts in death is low!
      O, Death! in wild, terrific majesty,        5
        Thou stand’st before us here;
      Ah, yes, we had forgotten thee,
        Thou, who art ever near.
  We were too full of joy, too full of trust
                In MAN,        10
  Forgetful of the mandate, “dust to dust,”
      And while bright hope began
To wax into firm confidence, and we spoke aloud
      Of the dark future, as if even now
          It was our own,        15
      O Death! all silent and alone,
Prepared stood, our thoughtless hope in gloom to shroud.
        O, ’tis a fearful thing
To think that, while a nation’s clamours rose and fell,        20
  While passion raged o’er all the land,
  And strife waved back and forth its clenched hand,
And victory’s shout rose up from hill and shaded dell,
And triumph spoke, and proudly said, “All’s safe and well”—
  Thou ever wert above us with thy raven wing!        25
          And on that day,
  Than which the sun, in its long tireless way,
      Hath seen none more sublime,
      Nor will see, till the end of time,
When the great chief, whom trembling hope had sought,        30
And from his humble state with acclamations brought,
      Took now the nation’s seat;
While millions of men’s hearts in fond affection beat,
      And rose a thrilling cry,
To which the sea, the desert rock, the crowded city gave        35
      A wild, long, glad reply,
      A universal, warm “all hail.”
      O, Death! thou, too, wert by,
Thinking how soon would rise the nation’s wide and long and plaintive wail.
              To thee        40
How strange must often seem the world’s fond pageantry,
  And strange too, to thy keen, well-judging eye,
Man’s too fond trust in dying man, while in our breast
HE enters not, to whom a nation’s hopes address’d
    May be full confident; for He        45
    Holds ever in his grasp futurity;
And, in his mighty course, tramples, O Death, on thee!

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