Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Lines on the Burial of the Champion of his Class at Yale College
By Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867)
YE’VE gathered to your place of prayer
  With slow and measured tread:
Your ranks are full, your mates all there,
  But the soul of one has fled.
He was the proudest in his strength,        5
  The manliest of ye all:
Why lies he at that fearful length,
  And ye around his pall?
Ye reckon it in days, since he
  Strode up that foot-worn aisle,        10
With his dark eye flashing gloriously,
  And his lip wreathed with a smile.
Oh, had it been but told you then
  To mark whose lamp was dim,
From out yon rank of fresh-lipped men,        15
  Would ye have singled him?
Whose was the sinewy arm, that flung
  Defiance to the ring?
Whose laugh of victory loudest rung—
  Yet not for glorying?        20
Whose heart, in generous deed and thought,
  No rivalry might brook,
And yet distinction claiming not?
  There lies he—go and look!
On, now,—his requiem is done,        25
  The last deep prayer is said;
On to his burial, comrades, on,
  With the noblest of the dead!
Slow, for it presses heavily,—
  It is a man ye bear!        30
Slow, for our thoughts dwell wearily
  On the noble sleeper there.
Tread lightly, comrades! we have laid
  His dark locks on his brow;
Like life—save deeper light and shade:        35
  We’ll not disturb them now.
Tread lightly; for ’tis beautiful,
  That blue-veined eyelid’s sleep,
Hiding the eye death left so dull,—
  Its slumber we will keep.        40
Rest now! his journeying is done,
  Your feet are on his sod,
Death’s chain is on your champion,—
  He waiteth here his God.
Ay, turn and weep: ’tis manliness        45
  To be heart-broken here,
For the grave of earth’s best nobleness
  Is watered by the tear.

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