Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
Poems of Sentiment: IV. Thought: Poetry: Books
The Poet’s Death
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
From “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” Canto V.

  CALL it not vain:—they do not err,
    Who say, that when the poet dies,
  Mute nature mourns her worshipper,
    And celebrates his obsequies;
Who say tall cliff, and cavern lone,        5
For the departed bard make moan;
That mountains weep in crystal rill;
That flowers in tears of balm distill;
Through his loved groves that breezes sigh
And oaks, in deeper groan, reply;        10
And rivers teach their rushing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave.
Not that, in sooth, o’er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn;
But that the stream, the wood, the gale,        15
Is vocal with the plaintive wail
Of those, who, else forgotten long,
Lived in the poet’s faithful song,
And, with the poet’s parting breath,
Whose memory feels a second death.        20
The maid’s pale shade, who wails her lot,
That love, true love, should be forgot,
From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear
Upon the gentle minstrel’s bier:
The phantom knight, his glory fled,        25
Mourns o’er the field he heaped with dead
Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain,
And shrieks along the battle-plain:
The chief, whose antique crownlet long
Still sparkled in the feudal song,        30
Now, from the mountain’s misty throne,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguished lie,
His place, his power, his memory die:
His groans the lonely caverns fill,        35
His tears of rage impel the rill;
All mourn the minstrel’s harp unstrung,
Their name unknown, their praise unsung.

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