Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
December 14
By James Thomas Fields (1817–1881)
          Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, the famous naturalist, died Dec. 14, 1873.

ONCE in the leafy prime of Spring,
  When blossoms whitened every thorn,
I wandered through the Vale of Orbe
  Where Agassiz was born.
The birds in boyhood he had known        5
  Went flitting through the air of May,
And happy songs he loved to hear
  Made all the landscape gay.
I saw the streamlet from the hills
  Run laughing through the valleys green,        10
And, as I watched it run, I said,
  “This his dear eyes have seen!”
Far cliffs of ice his feet have climbed
  That day outspoke of him to me;
The avalanches seemed to sound        15
  The name of Agassiz!
And standing on the mountain crag
  Where loosened waters rush and foam,
I felt that, though on Cambridge side,
  He made that spot my home.        20
And looking round me as I mused,
  I knew no pang of fear or care,
Or homesick weariness, because
  Once Agassiz stood there!
I walked beneath no alien skies,        25
  No foreign heights I came to tread,
For everywhere I looked, I saw
  His grand, beloved head.
His smile was stamped on every tree,
  The glacier shone to gild his name,        30
And every image in the lake
  Reflected back his fame.
Great keeper of the magic keys
  That could unlock the guarded gates
Where Science like a Monarch stands,        35
  And sacred Knowledge waits,—
Thine ashes rest on Auburn’s banks,
  Thy memory all the world contains,
For thou couldst bind in human love
  All hearts in golden chains!        40
Thine was the heaven-born spell that sets
  Our warm and deep affections free,—
Who knew thee best must love thee best,
  And longest mourn for thee!

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