Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
March 14
Benjamin Harrison
By Charles Edward Russell (1860–1941)
(Died March 14, 1901)

FULL on his forehead fell the expiring light
  Of old wreathed altars where his fathers died,
While at his back the dull devouring night
    Poured its advancing tide.
He would the ancient light relume, would fain        5
  The dear old faith keep still without a blot,
The flag he fought for scathless of a stain,
    The shield without a spot.
He sided with the weak and ceaseless strove
  With failing hands against the tyrannous strong;        10
Here was no place for him where unarmed Love
    Is strangled by old Wrong.
Here was no place for him where Force and Greed
  Upon the sacred fillets lay their hands
Red from the spoil of stricken souls that bleed        15
    And wrecks of ruined lands.
He has won peace at last—the peace that knows
  In dreamless tides no hint of hate or tears,
And falls where once his dauntless voice arose
    The silence of the years.        20
And men walk by and gaze, and wondering ask,
  Now that the white clear-visioned soul is fled,
Where is the hand to seize the torch and task
    New fallen from the dead?
Was all in vain? Is any word of worth,        25
  Though winged with truth and shot home to the mark,
If all the answer is this silent earth
    All lost voice in the dark?
But lost is never living word nor deed.
  As toward great waves unseen the ripple flows,        30
As hour by hour, unguessed, the fervent seed
    Up to the sunlight grows,
The true man’s word, though sown in fallow soil
  And fruitless lying many a day and night,
In its own way, beyond the sower’s toil,        35
    Bursts into deathless light.

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