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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Edwin Booth
By William Winter (1836–1917)
 
Read at a Farewell Feast to Edwin Booth, at Delmonico’s, N. Y., June 15th, 1880

From ‘Wanderers’

HIS barque will fade, in mist and night,
    Across the dim sea-line,
And coldly on our aching sight
    The solemn stars will shine.
All, all in mournful silence, save        5
    For ocean’s distant roar,
Heard where the slow, regretful wave
    Sobs on the lonely shore.
 
But oh, while, winged with love and prayer,
    Our thoughts pursue his track,        10
What glorious sights the midnight air
    Will proudly waft us back!
What golden words will flutter down
    From many a peak of fame!
What glittering shapes of old renown        15
    That cluster round his name!
 
O’er storied Denmark’s haunted ground
    Will darkly drift again,
Dream-like and vague, without a sound,
    The spectre of the Dane;        20
And breaking hearts will be the wreath
    For grief that knows no tear,
When shine on Cornwall’s storm-swept heath
    The blazing eyes of Lear.
 
Slow, ’mid the portents of the storm        25
    And fate’s avenging powers,
Will moody Richard’s haggard form
    Pace through the twilight hours;
And wildly hurtling o’er the sky,
    The red star of Macbeth—        30
Torn from the central arch on high—
    Go down in dusky death!
 
But—best of all!—will softly rise
    His form of manly grace—
The noble brow, the honest eyes,        35
    The sweetly patient face,
The loving heart, the stately mind
    That, conquering every ill,
Through seas of trouble cast behind,
    Was grandly steadfast still.        40
 
Though skies might gloom and tempest rave,
    Though friends and hopes might fall,
His constant spirit, simply brave,
    Would meet and suffer all;
Would calmly smile at fortune’s frown,        45
    Supreme o’er gain or loss:
And he the worthiest wears the crown
    That gently bore the cross!
 
Be blithe and bright, thou jocund day
    That golden England knows!        50
Bloom sweetly round the wanderer’s way,
    Thou royal English rose!
And, English hearts, (no need to tell
    How truth itself endures!)
This soul of manhood treasure well,        55
    Our love commits to yours!
 
Farewell! nor mist nor flying cloud
    Nor night can ever dim
The wreath of honors, pure and proud,
    Our hearts have twined for him!        60
But bells of memory still shall chime,
    And violets star the sod,
Till our last broken wave of time
    Dies on the shores of God.
 
 
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