Source: After Hours
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “President McKinley’s Farewell to Canton”
Author(s): Forwood, J. L.
Publisher: Press of the Chester Times
Place of publication: Chester, Pennsylvania
Year of publication: 1922
|Forwood, J. L. “President McKinley’s Farewell to Canton.” After Hours. Chester: Press of the Chester Times, 1922: pp. 101-08.|
|Canton, OH (poetry); William McKinley (poetry); William McKinley (journey: Canton, OH, to Buffalo, NY: 4 Sept. 1901: poetry); Pan-American Exposition (poetry); McKinley assassination (poetry); William McKinley (death: poetry); William McKinley (mourning: poetry).|
|Oliver Hazard Perry.|
From title page: After Hours: Poems.
From title page: By J. L. Forwood, M. D.
President McKinley’s Farewell to Canton
The morn breaks o’er a crystal sky,
Fading the fleecy gloom away,
In streaming luster, wafting high
Sweet fragrance of the coming day.
And Canton’s busy tide rolls on,
The hum of quickened traffic falls,
Exciting days have changed and gone,
The echoes once, within her walls. 
Where hearts who knew their stories well,
And friends who linger yet to tell
Of struggles where her triumph fell,
Success that made the young heart swell.
The day’s red sun rose o’er the plains,
The world looked on his living light—
The awakened giant’s broken chains—
Columbia rising in her might.
Slowly rolled the glittering car,
To bear the nation’s Chief away,
And loyal hearts responding far,
The fame of that eventful day.
And he who long had been the soul,
And still the greater nation led;
And looked with passion’s deep control,
O’er fond and fading scenes and said:
“Farewell to Canton! Still my heart
Clings where thy heavenly halo fades,
A last farewell, as now we part
Thy sacred vales and hallowed shades.
“Far deeper sinks my weary breast,
In memory of thy silent past,
Here all my golden years were blessed,
And all were peace and love at last.
“And now to say to thee adieu,
Is mingled in a saddened soul,
My days or years may be but few,
And not within my own control. 
“My trust is in my God above,
Who, ever has and ever will
So guide me with his hand of love,
And fate shall linger to fulfil.” [sic]
The swift train sped its winding way,
O’er mountain, plain, and gliding stream,
On and on, through the early day,
In glitter, glare and rising gleam.
Where science, art and manual skill,
Hold carnival in halls of fame,
And anxious hearts awaiting still
The nation’s honored Chief to claim.
The bright sun shone o’er dome and spire,
The festive city rolled below,
In scenes that gladden and inspire
The patriot hearts at Buffalo.
The great throng surged in anxious mood,
In wild exalt or long delay,
In roar and clatter through, they stood,
Impatient spirit filled the day.
The last ray sank, far o’er the cliffs,
Beyond the dim Canadian hills,
The gloom of night, their shadow lifts—
The soul’s deep meditation fills.
An awe inspiring thread of time,
That ushered in the fatal day;
The hot blood rankled now in crime,
That night alone could yet delay. 
The morrow came full bright and clear,
And cheering all in hopeful glee
No heart had trembled none in fear,
Light shone forth o’er the brave and free.
The President, the restless throng
Bore on in wild and welcome cheer,
Through park and temple, still along,
And hailed the greeting hour to hear.
He stands within yon music hall,
And gives a friendly hand to all
In answer there to duty’s call,
Where now his kindly blessing fall.
The great Republic—sons renowned
Without distinction, full and free—
Hail with love and honor, crowned
Its Chief, its laws, its liberty.
And he who held no rank nor crown,
Who rules by limited consent,
Is met, received without a frown,
With free responsive soul’s content.
The nation bears its richest vines,
Its ever, overflowing urns,
Its thrifty millions—greater minds,
To honor one where duty turns.
A land where every personal right,
In man’s treasured liberty and voice,
Where education spreads the light,
Of civil and religious choice. 
But see, how quick, confusion round,
How rush the wild, excited throng—
How sharp that flash, that deadly sound,
As from the air rung out, some wrong.
With friendly pretence, suddenly,
A murderous fiend, with assassin’s hand,
And deadly weapon, stealthily
Shot down the most beloved, in all the land.
And while the solemn, dying strains,
Of music fell upon the air,
His shocked brain chills, his life’s blood stains
The tender breast, that welcomed there.
He fell; a mighty nation bled;
His warm blood pouring as he lay;
Loving hands, raised his drooping head,
And staunched the sad red stains away.
And bore him to a couch of rest,
Where, lingering in each moment’s flight,
The agony of years hung o’er his breast,
As life’s last thread still clung to light.
That death shot fired, a lightning flash,
Could not have more depressed, surprised
The busy world, nor act more rash,
Nor deed more bloody, nor disguised.
More wanton or inhuman fiend
Could not have raised the murderous hand,
Nor found in human breast a-kin,
With heart so black, and soul so damned. 
That he could strike in friendly grasp,
The heart that love alone inspired,
The soul that moved, the hand that clasped
The proffered greeting, there desired!
The startled nation rose aghast,
The world deplored, a shock so deep;
An earthquake’s sudden, deadly blast,
Brought patriot millions now to weep.
Then vengeance seized the fiery soul,
But love of law and liberty,
Held all, with a loyal control,
And freedom, seemed not always free.
The wound sank deep in every heart,
And gloom and sorrow silenced all
With bleeding souls, as hot tears start,
Writhing, beneath a blighting pall.
With one impulse the nation’s voice,
Went forth from every anxious breast,
“Oh, save him, save him, save our choice!
Give back his peaceful life and rest.
“Raise him, save him, seam up the rent,
Call quick the skill, the surgeon’s knife,
Staunch the deep blood flow, ere is spent
The last faint pulse of lingering life.
“Do what is best, and thus resigned.”
All that human skill had now in store
Was done; with firm and settled mind,
Most patiently his suffering bore. 
But all was useless, all in vain,
The last sad moment lingered near,
With dim eyes fixed that n’er again,
His dear ones’ happy hearts could cheer.
With trembling lips and whisper low,
“Farewell to all, farewell!” And still
As pity’s tears around him flow—
“It is God’s way, His Holy Will.”
His faint breath stilled—forever done;
Life’s last message, the last of all;
From a career so humbly begun,
And from its zenith of glory fall.
And one impulsive wail went up,
One universal drooping pall
Fell—as he drained the bitter cup—
In gloom and mourning over all.
The knell of plunging waters roar,
In far Niagara’s sweeping surge,
And whirling cascades downward pour,
In lonely, long and solemn dirge.
Broad Erie rolls her battle sheen,
Shades of immortal dim the skies,
Where yet in spectral fancy seen,
The form and flag of Perry rise.
The nation bows in homage now,
At the bier of her greatest Son,
Her immortal wreath upon his brow—
Unfading glory, justly won. 
The funeral train on homeward way,
Draped in sadness and in sorrow,
Death clouds hung o’er the lowering day,
In tears of a nation’s horror.
Back to Canton’s saddening gloom,
In every echo sadder now,
The grim door swung at the open tomb,
Where fame has crowned his immortal brow.
Forever here, his silent sleep,
His martyred blood, in sighs above;
A mecca, where all nations weep,
Home of his last and dearest love.