Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

NON OMNIS MORIAR

In Memory of Gleeson White


 

THIS paragraph cannot be true;
For such a man could not have died.
Death is so lonely, hard and cold,—
Not gentleness personified.

What manner was it in the man

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That makes the story seem untrue?
Death is for fighters, rakes, and kings;
Malice nor greed he never knew.

He never seemed to strive to live;
His spirit was too sure for strife,—

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Too glad, unquerulous and fair,
To take the sordid tinge of life.

The pompous folly of the world
Could never touch that radiant mien;
He moved unstained among the crowd,

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Loyal, courageous, and serene.

No bargainer for wealth nor fame
Nor place, his was a better part,—
The simple love of all his kind,
And lifelong fervour in his art.

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It must have been his charity,
That tender human heart of his,
That rare unfailing kindliness,
Could make his death seem so amiss.

In London where he lived and toiled,

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I saw him smile across the throng,
The unembittered smile of those
Whose sweetness triumphs over wrong.

With that unvexed Chaucerian mood,
That zest unsevered from repose,

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He is as wise as Omar now,
Or any Master of the Rose.

And here in the November dusk
There comes an echo, faint and far,
Of that gay, valiant, careless voice

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That cried, Non omnis moriar!

Behind the mask of lore and creed
There dwells an instinct, strong and blind,
Refuting sorrow, bidding grief
Be something better than resigned.

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There is a part of me that knows,
Beneath incertitude and fear,
I shall not perish when I pass
Beyond mortality’s frontier;

But greatly having joyed and grieved,

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Greatly content, shall hear the sigh
Of the strange wind across the lone
Bright lands of taciturnity.

In patience therefore I await
My friend’s unchanged benign regard,—

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Some April when I too shall be
Split water from a broken shard.