In Memoriam: John Lothrop Motley

FAREWELL, dear friend! For us the grief and pain,
Who shall not see thy living face again;
For us the sad yet noble memories
Of lofty thoughts, of upward-looking eyes,
Of warm affections, of a spirit bright
With glancing fancies and a radiant light,
That, flashing, threw around all common things
Heroic haloes and imaginings:
Nothing of this can fade while life shall last,
But brighten, with death’s shadow o’er it cast.
For us the pain: for thee the larger life,
The higher being, freed from earthly strife:
Death hath but opened unto thee the door
Thy spirit knocked so strongly at before;
And as a falcon from its cage set free,
Where it has pined and fluttered helplessly,
Longing to soar, and gazing at. the sky
Where its strong wings their utmost flight may try,
So has thy soul, from out life’s broken bars,
Sprung in a moment up beyond the stars,
Where all thy powers unfettered, unconfined,
Their native way in loftier regions find.
Ah, better thus, in one swift moment freed,
Than wounded, stricken, here to drag and bleed!
This was the fate we feared, but happy Death
Has swept thee from us as a sudden breath
Wrings the ripe fruit from off the shaken bough, —
And ours the sorrow, thine the glory now!
How memory goes back and lingering dwells
On the lost past, and its fond story tells!
When glad ambition fired thy radiant face,
And youth was thine, and hope, and manly grace,
And Life stood panting to begin its race:
Thine eyes their summer lightning flashing out,
Thy brow with dark locks clustering thick about,
Thy sudden laugh from lips so sensitive,
Thy proud, quick gestures, all thy face alive, —
These like a vision of the morning rise
And brightly pass before my dreaming eyes.
And then again I see thee, when the breath
Of the great world’s applause first stirred the wreath
That Fame upon thy head ungrudging placed:
Modest and earnest, all thy spirit braced
To noble ends, and with a half excess
As of one running in great eagerness,
And leaning forward out beyond the poise
Of coward prudence, holding but as toys
The world’s great favors, when it sought to stay
Thy impulsive spirit on its ardent way.
For thee no swerving to a private end;
Stern in thy faith, that naught could break or bend,
Loving thy country, pledged to Freedom’s cause,
Disdaining wrong, abhorrent of the laws
Expedience prompted with the tyrant’s plea,
Wielding thy sword for Justice fearlessly,—
So brave, so true, that nothing could deter,
Nor friend, nor foe, thy ready blow for her.
Ah, noble spirit, whither hast thou fled?
What doest thou amid the unnumbered dead?
Oh, say not ’mid the dead, for what hast thou
Among the dead to do? No! rather now.
If Faith and Hope are not a wild deceit,
The truly living thou hast gone to meet,
The noble spirits purged by death, whose eye
O’erpeers the brief bounds of mortality;
And they behold thee rising there afar,
Serenely clear above Time’s cloudy bar,
And greet thee as we greet a rising star.
W. W. Story.