Source: Cloud City Chimes
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “McKinley”
Author(s): Phelps, George S.
Publisher: Reed Publishing Company
Place of publication: Denver, Colorado
Year of publication: 1903
|Phelps, George S. “McKinley.” Cloud City Chimes. Denver: Reed Publishing, 1903: pp. 11-15.|
|William McKinley (poetry); William McKinley (death: poetry); William McKinley (mourning: poetry); McKinley presidency (poetry); McKinley assassination (poetry).|
From page 11: “This poem was awarded the first prize at the National Eisteddfod, held in Scranton, Penn., in May, 1902, the prize being donated by The Scranton Tribune. The Tribune Publishing Association has given its consent for the publication of the poem by the author.”
The poem is accompanied by an illustration of McKinley on page 10.
From title page: Cloud City Chimes: McKinley (Prize Poem), Pike’s Peak, etc.
From title page: By Geo. S. Phelps.
As sinks the sun to rest at close of day,
Amid the roseate splendors of the west;
Where lies the mystic beauty of th’ golden sea,
Whose varied hues are ever ill at rest;
So memory comes,—with colors more divine,—
To paint the glory of a deathless name
High in th’ “Hall of Fame;” and on the page
Of history to place another name,
Crown’d with the lustre of immortal deeds,
Honor and Glory,—Fame! For him who sleeps
Within that “narrow house,” the victor’s crown;
Aye, wreaths of immortelles, a nation’s tears.
We hear again the tread of martial feet,
The muffled drums’ deep tones of grief and woe,—
The soft, sad music o’er the voiceless dead.
We see our starry flag, entwin’d with wreaths
And bud and bloom, that shed their perfum’d life
About th’ coffin’d form; cordons of soldiers,
Horse and foot;—throngs on throngs, a living mass
That press their way, for yet another look
Upon the placid face of him whose form
Was lying there, waiting its final rest.
The great and good, the rich and poor were there,
To do him reverence, who erstwhile liv’d
Th’ statesman of his age; a crowned monarch 
In patriot hearts and homes, where freedom lives
And sheds its benediction o’er a land
Where God himself hath wrought, in thought and work,
The liberty of man,—th’ matchless splendor
Of a land, to be the “Star of Empire”—
Leading on to more resplendent glory.
“Great man and good,”—the verdict of a world
Where kings and princes reign;—and manhood own’d
The noble life and purity of thought
That mark’d his upward way, where high he stood
On Fame’s Eternal Mount, Our Nation’s Chief.
And those who lov’d him here, strong hearts and true,
Have named him best, in all that serves to make
The grandeur of a life well spent,—that gives
To human hearts the hope of better years.
And so we come to speak his praises here;
To tell the work and true nobility
Of one who rests to-day wrapt in the love
Of trusting hearts, that knew his innate worth.
He was of lowly birth; no herald’s voice
Proclaim’d glad tidings of the natal hour
That gave to earth this child of common clay;
He rose unaided and alone; by work
And toil, he mark’d th’ way to high achievement;
And as the cry for help went up, when war’s
Grim visage swept the angry sky, he went
A stripling to th’ field where rag’d th’ battle’s storm,—
And in the ranks that fought at Freedom’s call 
He did his part, and to his country gave
Young manhood’s years; and then with well-earn’d rank,
He bravely sought to reach those grander heights
Where Honor waits, to crown her daring sons.
In council hall, in State and Nation both,
His voice rang out in freedom’s cause,—until
His name became th’ synonym of power,
And glory mark’d him for her own,—and plac’d
Upon his brow her wreath of fame,—and put
Within his hands th’ helm to guide and pilot
O’er th’ ocean’s way the grand old Ship of State.
Full well the work was done,—the Nation heard
The call of stricken ones,—their hopes destroy’d,
Their lands despoil’d and desolate, beneath
The iron heel of dark, despotic pow’r;
The cry of famish’d lips that rose to heav’n
From crush’d and bleeding hearts and ruined homes,—
That told the tale of Cuba’s crimson’d sod,
Wet with the red tears of her fallen brave.
And when the curtain’d shadows of the night
Had spread thick darkness o’er Havana’s bay,—
And th’ fair stars had closed their glitt’ring eyes,
A blow was struck that shook the mighty deep,
Where lay the Maine, wreck’d by the treachery
Of dastard hands; beneath that star-gem’d flag,
Which but a few short hours before was hail’d
By stalwart tars—“Proud ensign of the brave!”
Were crushed and mangled forms; while th’ red wine
Of patriot blood flow’d thro’ th’ great ship’s side.
Freedom wept,—as th’ Recording Angel took
His pen of fire and wrote those deathless names 
Upon the Martyr Roll of Liberty.
Tears for our dead!—But Justice drew her sword,
And at the call of him who watch’d serene,
In th’ high tower of Freedom’s hallow’d fane,
The nation rose and threw its giant arms
On land and sea, ’round its despotic foe;
And Spanish power and hate, dead in th’ grave
It fashion’d for the form of Liberty,—
Gave birth to freedom’s day-star in the east,
And fix’d th’ bow of promise in th’ distant west.
Peace spread her wings; th’ glory of Manila Bay,—
The splendor of th’ charge up San Juan Hill,—
The “Captain’s fight,” where steel-clad monsters met
’Mid smoke and flame, and battle shot and shell,
That left upon a rock-bound coast the wreck
Of mighty battleships, marking the close
Of Spain’s illustrious deeds and regal fame;
Where patriot valor crush’d her tyrant pow’r,
Leaving an heritage of peerless deeds
To crown th’ dauntless courage of th’ North and South,
Baptis’d anew in the red flame of war:
From lake fring’d north to sunny southland rang
Glad shouts of victory; from the far east
To “Golden Gate” and distant Orient
The voice of Liberty proclaim’d the death
Of tyrant rule—the birth of Freedom’s sons.
Again the nation spoke: and he, whose hand
Had steered the Ship of State thro’ troubl’d ways
Once more was called to take th’ helm, and guide
To Destiny’s wide imperial port
Fair Freedom’s ship upon the peaceful waves,
Where commerce mark’d the way to high success.
He took the helm, and grandly sped that ship 
With sails full set o’er the white waves of Hope:
Short day, his voice was heard in lov’d command;
And as he stood, in manhood’s strength and power,
Where thousands waited for his earnest words,
He told of work well done,—of promis’d years:
Then with prophetic voice declar’d the way
To grand achievements and a nation’s goal.
Those halls where Science, Art and Genius sat
Rang with glad shouts and loud huzzas,—nor told
How soon th’ night of grief would shroud th’ matchless day.
Great throngs,—the high and low, the great and good,—
Press’d on to grasp the noble hand and mark
What thoughts would fall from lips of eloquence.
Smiling he stood, with gracious mien, clasp’d hands,
And gave to all kind words of hope and love;
E’en took the Judas hand that struck him down
And fell, Columbia’s martyred son!
Brave heart! For you a nation’s tears are shed.
O, man of matchless mould! Oh, spirit grand!
Ennobled by the breath of God-like thought,
Thrilling a soul fill’d with the melody
Of good to man. Heir to eternal fame!
Wrapt in the drapery of a people’s love,—
Entwin’d with garlands of immortal birth;
We bow our heads to Him who rules on high,
And weeping say:—“God’s will, not ours, be done.”