Source: Songs of Two Centuries
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “Colloquy of Grief”
Author(s): Carleton, Will
Publisher: Harper and Brothers
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1902
|Carleton, Will. “Colloquy of Grief.” Songs of Two Centuries. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1902: pp. 122-23.|
|William McKinley (death: poetry); William McKinley (mourning: poetry).|
|From title page: By Will Carleton, Author of “Farm Ballads,” “Farm Festivals,” “City Legends,” “Rhymes of Our Planet,” Etc. Etc.|
Colloquy of Grief
William McKinley died September 14, 1901.
Nation bright with the sunrise-glow—
Full of the century’s throbbing—
Why do you bow your head so low?
Why do we hear you sobbing? . . . . . . . .
Death has climbed to my highest place,
And tears of a people are no disgrace;
Sorrow is better told than kept;
And grief is holy, for God has wept.
Nation with banner of oldest birth,
Stars to the high stars sweeping,
Why have you not a flag on earth,
But to the half-mast creeping? . . . . . . . .
Many a brave man had to die,
To hold those colors against the sky;
Agonies such as this reveal
That every banner to Heaven must kneel!
Nation with tasks that might appal
Planets of weak endeavor,
Why did the best man of you all
Sail from your shores forever? . . . . . . . .
Not forever and not from sight,
But nearer to God’s sweet kindly light:
Through the mists to a stormless sea,
Where all the heroes of ages be.
Nation with weapons fierce and grim,
Sharpen with rage your sadness:
Tear the murderer limb from limb—
Torture him into madness! . . . . . . . .
No! I have Heaven too much in awe, 
The law to avenge with lack of law:
Take we the soul from its tainted clod,
And lay it down at the feet of God.
Nation whose love for home ne’er dies,
Cruel the clouds that hover!
What do you say when a woman cries,
“Give me my husband-lover?” . . . . . . . .
Sad heart, carry the grievous wrong
In Faith’s own arms; it will not be long.
Here, and in lands you never knew,
He more than ever will comfort you.
Nation of many tribes and lands—
Strength of the world’s best nations,
Say! would a million murderous hands
Crumble your deep foundations? . . . . . . . .
Never! no poison e’er can blight
The flowers and fruitage of truth and right;
Never! the land that the tyrant fears,
Shall live in splendor a thousand years!