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Tristissima noctis imago

 

To the glory of the Lord

Evermore in sweet accord

With the valiant spirit gone

From its service loyally done

To repose in Paradise

 

Thus the graven brass incise

With recorded sacrifice ;

Mortised in the sacred wall,

May its letters ever call

To the careless passer-by :

" Freedom lives when Heroes die."

*      *      *     *

Place, and season of the year,

Pilgrimage that led me here.

Sodden pathway up the green,

Dripping yew-tree's sombre screen

From the penetrating rain,

These unitedly attain

Pageantry of perfect pain.

As I tread the dreary lane.

Horror, peeping in my face.

Points me to a silent house;

And I see the garden space.

Where with ivies interlace

Nettle-nets and fungus spawn.

And the spoil of broken boughs ;

I can see the sallow lawn,

And again its border sod.

There, that night, I called on God

To prevent an agony

Dreadful as Gethsemane ;

 

" Lord," I cried, " it cannot be.

Even while I Strive with Thee,

Darker draws a deeper night

Round the finish of his fight;

Lord, it is within my right

And my love, to die instead ;

Pour Thy judgments on the head

That evaded sacrifice "-

And the answer to my prayer

Was the tossing tempest there,

And the rain across mine eyes.

*      *      * *

So reluctantly my feet

Pass, in fantasy to meet

Comrades of his Company,

Thither turning in salute

To their leader lying mute ;

Promising him Victory,

Bidding him a long good-bye.




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