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Source: The Deeper Harmonies and Other Poems
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “William McKinley—In Memoriam”
Author(s): Viett, George F.
Publisher: Free-Lance Pub. Co.
Place of publication: Norfolk, Virginia
Year of publication: 1905
Pagination: 122-24

Viett, George F. “William McKinley—In Memoriam.” The Deeper Harmonies and Other Poems. Norfolk: Free-Lance, 1905: pp. 122-24.
full text
William McKinley (death: poetry); McKinley assassination (poetry);
Named persons
In the book’s table of contents the poem’s title is given as “William McKinley, In Memoriam.”

From title page: The Deeper Harmonies and Other Poems: A Book of Verses, Essays and Selections.


William McKinley—In Memoriam


“In the midst of life we are in death.”

A nation mourns above her martyred Chief;
Our President, the well-beloved, is dead!
The noble husband and the gracious son,
The honored man, the mighty Magistrate,
Alike his country’s pride and country’s stay,
From scenes familiar has been torn away
To fill a tear-stained and untimely tomb.

For—“In the midst of life we are in death.”
The vital stream bounds gladly through the veins,
The heart beats cadence to life’s joyous strain;
Dim in the distance, Death—to fancy’s eye—
Seems too remote for this day’s reckoning.
Yet, by our side the Reaper’s step
Makes measured paces with our own;
And while we ponder on the things of life
He meets us face to face—and draws the veil!
Upon our cheeks we feel the chilling breath,
And thus, amid life’s ways, we walk with Death.

Aye—In the midst of life we walk with Death!
And where the stream of life flows full and fast
There Death doth often stoop to slake his thirst.
The busy marts of trade, the pageant’s pomp,
The festal hall, and pleasant paths of peace
And joy, all know his presence and his touch.
Sequestered ways, the tumult’s nosy [sic] camp,
Great solitudes, the bustling hives of men,
Hold not one spot secure from his soft step.

The President is dead!
But yesterday with kindly eye and voice
He dwelt among us, and the Ship of State
Beneath the impulse of his guiding hand
Sped on serenely. To-day that hand is stilled;
The form we loved so well is pale in death.

Crowned with the honors of his high estate,
Securely bonded to his people’s love,
The honored guest of that fair festal town,
’Twas there the martyred one was stricken down.
No time, indeed, was this for Death, no place;
And yet, ’twas there our loved Chief smiled and stretched
His hand, to welcome the great Prince of Peace. [122][123]

The President is dead!
The rock-bound road that leads to fame is lined
With vicious footpads of assorted kind,
And he that sheds a light amid the dark
For murd’rous miscreants makes a shining mark.
Whence came the mandate, out of place and time,
That he should fall in all his splendid prime
By hand so base? What cruel spell is flung
That felons should be left too long unhung?
Oh, why indeed, “has worth so brief a date,”
While villains linger to life’s last estate?

The ruler, statesman, and the soldier,—dead!
And not on glory’s field his blood was shed,
But yet no less he fell at duty’s call,
Though base the hand that caused his ill-timed fall.
Not all the ranting of a ribald creed
May dim the damnedness of this dreadful deed.
Not all the floods of lamentation’s tears
May quench the fires of indignation.

The President is dead!
The people’s choice, and chosen for his worth;
Chosen of God to bear the martyr’s part,
The tear-stained tribute of his country’s heart.
A nation weeps above his honored clay,
A world in pity voices heartfelt grief
For him, who was so ruthless torn away.
For him who from his toil has found release;
For him now done with all this troubled life,
Its tumult, turmoil, and its weary strife.
God rest his soul, and give his loved ones peace.

Through bleeding hearts contrition enters in.
The President is dead!
The hand of God is heavy on the land;
But should we question from our narrow view
The ways of Him who maketh no mistakes?
Not ours to fathom His mysterious works,
Not ours to murmur at His mighty plan;
Man understands alone the ways of man.

To give us pause, that we might heed His voice
He marked the martyr for the dastard’s blow
That all might see, and in the seeing know
Some sacrifice was needed for our sin.
Through broken hearts contrition enters in. [123][124]

So died the Magistrate of this great land,
The last and best loved of that noble band
Whose martyrdom has shed divinest light,
Too often hidden from our worldly sight.
And it may be to give us pause God smote
Upon the adamant of heedless hearts,
That purging waters might gush forth and wash
Away our sinful imperfections.
Thus oft’ He turns us from our earthly stress
And leads us back to ways of righteousness.
And this we know—and let the thought suffice—
None but the righteous fit such sacrifice.

The President is dead!
There is no surer path to God’s white throne
Than through the martyr’s grave. Let this atone,
And prove a sign, that we may seek and read
Beyond the bitter of this wanton deed.

But this the story of the pitying years:—
Before the gaze of mighty multitudes,
With kindly smile and friendship’s hand outstretched
He welcomed there, unknown, the fatal dart.
On duty’s altar laid his noble heart.



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