Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey



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

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,—

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,

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.


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,

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,

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

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.


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,

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,—

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