Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: I. Personal: Rulers; Statesmen; Warriors
Daniel Webster
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
 
WHEN, stricken by the freezing blast,
  A nation’s living pillars fall,
How rich the storied page, how vast,
  A word, a whisper, can recall!
 
No medal lifts its fretted face,        5
  Nor speaking marble cheats your eye;
Yet, while these pictured lines I trace,
  A living image passes by:
 
A roof beneath the mountain pines;
  The cloisters of a hill-girt plain;        10
The front of life’s embattled lines;
  A mound beside the heaving main.
 
These are the scenes: a boy appears;
  Set life’s round dial in the sun,
Count the swift arc of seventy years,        15
  His frame is dust; his task is done.
 
Yet pause upon the noontide hour,
  Ere the declining sun has laid
His bleaching rays on manhood’s power,
  And look upon the mighty shade.        20
 
No gloom that stately shape can hide,
  No change uncrown his brow; behold!
Dark, calm, large-fronted, lightning-eyed,
  Earth has no double from its mould!
 
Ere from the fields by valor won        25
  The battle-smoke had rolled away,
And bared the blood-red setting sun,
  His eyes were opened on the day.
 
His land was but a shelving strip,
  Black with the strife that made it free;        30
He lived to see its banners dip
  Their fringes in the western sea.
 
The boundless prairies learned his name,
  His words the mountain echoes knew;
The northern breezes swept his fame        35
  From icy lake to warm bayou.
 
In toil he lived; in peace he died;
  When life’s full cycle was complete,
Put off his robes of power and pride,
  And laid them at his Master’s feet.        40
 
His rest is by the storm-swept waves,
  Whom life’s wild tempests roughly tried,
Whose heart was like the streaming caves
  Of ocean, throbbing at his side.
 
Death’s cold white hand is like the snow        45
  Laid softly on the furrowed hill;
It hides the broken seams below,
  And leaves the summit brighter still.
 
In vain the envious tongue upbraids;
  His name a nation’s heart shall keep,        50
Till morning’s latest sunlight fades
  On the blue tablet of the deep!
 
 
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