Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “Written Upon the Occasion of the Dedication of the Tomb of William McKinley at Canton, Ohio, Sept. 30th, 1907”
Author(s): Fisher, Benjamin
Publisher: David D. Nickerson and Company
Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1921
|Fisher, Benjamin. “Written Upon the Occasion of the Dedication of the Tomb of William McKinley at Canton, Ohio, Sept. 30th, 1907.” Poems. Boston: David D. Nickerson, 1921: pp. 51-55.|
|McKinley assassination (poetry); William McKinley (death: poetry); McKinley memorial (Canton, OH: poetry).|
In the book’s table of contents the poem below is identified as “Dedication of Tomb of McKinley.”
From title page: By Benjamin Fisher, Author of “Life Harmonies” Selected Poems, “Francis Thompson” Essays.
Written Upon the Occasion of the Dedication of the Tomb of
William McKinley at Canton, Ohio, Sept. 30th, 1907
How dark with fearful, life-depressing gloom
That awful day when o’er the land there spread,
Like early blight and death of all things dear,
The knell of our great leader’s threatened doom!
Oh, how the sun dimmed all its sorrowed cheer,—
The night, how still and black with shudd’ring dread!
What dumb despair and pleading anguish told
The whispered fate of our great nation’s chief,
But yesterday exalted in the praise
Of all our mighty host! What dismal grief 
Was ours,—oh, how our hearts grew faint and cold
With dread suspense and woe of infinite days!
But didst thou deem in death his glory lost,
And dimmed in night the splendor of his day,
And all his radiant fame, so slowly won
Through tireless, groping years with awful cost
Of sleepless labor, strife and pain,—all gone
In that one moment of thy dark dismay?
Ah, faithless ones! Could you not see through night
Of agony and loss death’s evening sky
Aglow with splendor brighter than he knew
While here on earth? Could you not see him lie
Darkly in death, yet robed in spirit-light,—
All helpless, yet enriched with power anew? 
Behold that day has come! Now shalt thou see
A pageant grander than all triumph’s great
Of our dead chief’s renowned and honored life.
Behold his people gath’ring reverently
And nations laying down their varied strife,
Fame’s triumph over death to celebrate,—
Of earth the last and greatest victory won!
Here, then, abides our chief’s immortal fame
In yonder beauteous and radiant tomb;
Here Glory shall imprint his deathless name
Deeper than on its gold or graven stone
Whose splendor white dispels sepulchral gloom. 
And thou, majestic pile, sublime and pure,
Shielded with silvered cloud or domèd blue,—
No nobler shrine shall greet the whitening dawn,
Through time with brighter glory to endure.
So mayst thou stand when years and states are gone,
The tomb of him we loved,—the great and true,
Erected by earth’s youngest, mightiest race
To make immortal that sweet memory.
Yet, if fell time might darken all thy light
And mar thy beauty,—if strange destiny
Could bring thee to decay,—leave not a trace
Of all thy radiant majesty and might,— 
So may it pass: so may thy splendor wane
To dust and night. Then shall immortal Fame,
Unharmed in thy material decay,
Arise to flourish in the hearts of men
While memory endures. So shall the day
Of glory brighter carve his deathless name,
On time’s abiding scroll. Yet we have prayed
That fate may ever spare thy beauteous state,
While peoples strange, as pilgrims, hither move
To worship at this shrine we consecrate,—
A glorious tribute to our honored dead—
Last token of our Nation’s deathless love.