By the Aurelian Wall and Other Elegies

by Bliss Carman


 

PHILLIPS BROOKS


 

THIS is the white winter day of his burial.
Time has set here of his toiling the span
Earthward, naught else. Cheer him out through the portal,
Heart-beat of Boston, our utmost in man!

Out in the broad open sun be his funeral,

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Under the blue for the city to see.
Over the grieving crowd mourn for him, bugle!
Churches are narrow to hold such as he.

Here on the steps of the temple he builded,
Rest him a space, while the great city square

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Throngs with his people, his thousands, his mourners;
Tears for his peace and a multitude's prayer.

How comes it, think you, the town's traffic pauses
Thus at high noon? Can we wealthmongers grieve?
Here in the sad surprise greatest America

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Shows for a moment her heart on her sleeve.

She who is said to give life-blood for silver,
Proves, without show, she sets higher than gold
Just the straight manhood, clean, gentle, and fearless,
Made in God's likeness once more as of old.

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Once more the crude makeshift law overproven,—
Soul pent from sin will seek God in despite;
Once more the gladder way wins revelation,—
Soul bent on God forgets evil outright.

Once more the seraph voice sounding to beauty,

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Once more the trumpet tongue bidding, no fear!
Once more the new, purer plan's vindication,—
Man be God's forecast. and Heaven is here.

Bear him to burial, Harvard, thy hero!
Not on thy shoulders alone is he borne;

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They of the burden go forth on the morrow,
Heavy and slow, through a world left forlorn.

No grief for him, for ourselves the lamenting;
What giant arm to stay courage up now?
March we a thousand file up to the City,

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Fellow with fellow linked, he taught us how!

Never dismayed at the dark nor the distance!
Never deployed for the steep nor the storm!
Hear him say, "Hold fast, the night wears to morning!
This God of promise is God to perform."

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Up with thee, heart of fear, high as the heaven!
Thou hast known one wore this life without stain.
What if for thee and me,—street, Yard, or Common,—
Such a white captain appear not again!

Fight on alone! Let the faltering spirit

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Within thee recall how he carried a host,
Rearward and van, as Wind shoulders a dust-heap;
One Way till strife be done, strive each his most.

Take the last vesture of beauty upon thee,
Thou doubting world; and with not an eye dim

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Say, when they ask if thou knowest a Saviour,
"Brooks was His brother, and we have known him."