Source type: magazine
Document type: poem
Document title: “In Memoriam: William McKinley”
Date of publication: 19 September 1901
Volume number: 50
Issue number: 1290
|“In Memoriam: William McKinley.” Truth 19 Sept. 1901 v50n1290: p. 701.|
|William McKinley (mourning: poetry); William McKinley (poetry); William McKinley (death: poetry).|
In Memoriam: William McKinley
AS a great wave that, checked in its advance,
Recoils awhile beyond the breakers’ roar,
And then, the mightier for its first mischance,
In ampler volume surges on the shore:
So with our grief it is: the wave of woe
That rose and swelled, and then resought its source,
Returns again with a resistless flow
In deeper, fuller more o’erwhelming force.
In that the clouded sky had grown more bright
As Hope diffused its ever-welcome ray,
So much the blacker is the sudden night
That, swiftly falling, has eclipsed the day.
We’d ceased to think about the foe with dread—
Had not the sentries passed the word “All’s well!”
Yet, ere the echo of their shout had sped,
Death’s flag is flying o’er the citadel!
The blow is crushing: words are hard to find:
From the true mourner halting phrases come
Which aptly voice the anguish of the mind:
Sorrow is never deeper than when dumb.
Yet weak and feeble though our dirge may be
Compared with those embittered tears we shed,
We must assure our kinsmen o’er the sea
How we unite with them to mourn their dead.
For in their stricken President we hail
No alien ruler, but a steadfast friend;
One dowered by Nature on a generous scale
With those good gifts we English most commend.
Honest, determined, level-headed, just,
He lived his public life through stress and strain;
He broke no promise, he betrayed no trust:
His private life was sullied by no stain.
His country’s happiness he ever sought;
Her greatness—that was his abiding crown—
She was his sole, his all-pervasive thought,
Till the assassin’s bullet brought him down.
And he is dead; but dying he has left
A bright example that will ever last;
And though his people are of him bereft,
’Tis only what was mortal that has passed.
So while they weep for him so lately gone,
And curse the bullet that his life has cost,
They boldly nerve themselves to carry on
The life-work of the President they’ve lost!