Wendell Phillips

TEACH me, dread boughs,
Where from your twigs the sad Muse culls her leaves,
When she a long-neglected garland weaves
To bind great brows.
Give no leaf less
Than his unlaureled temples should have worn:
So may his spirit pass me not in scorn,
But turn and bless.
I fondly dream !
How could my crown, though rich with crust and stain
From tears of sacred sorrow, win such gain —
That smile supreme ?
Short-stemmed and curt
His wreath should be, and braided by strong hands,
Hindered with sword-hilt, while the braider stands
With loin upgirt.
Too late to urge
Thy tardy crown. Draw back, O Northern blond!
Let black hands take, to bind the Southern frond,
A severed scourge !
Haughty and high,
And deaf to all the thunders of the throng,
He heard the lowest whisper of his wrong
The slave could sigh.
In some pent street,
O prophet-slaying city of his care,
Pour out thine eyes, loose thy repentant hair,
And kiss his feet!
Little it is
That thou canst pay, yet pay this recompense :
All tongues henceforth shall give thine ears offense,
Remembering his;
All grace shall tease
The flush of shame to thine averted cheek;
Best Greek shall mind thee of one greater Greek,
More godlike ease —
Blessing and blight,
A bitter drop beneath the bee-kissed lips,
Hyperion’s anger passing to eclipse
And arrow-flight!
Thou didst not spare :
Thy foot is on his violated door ;
Therefore the mantle that his shoulders wore
None hence shall wear.
Above thy choice,
This Coriolanus of the peoples’ wars
Could never strip his brawn and show his scars
To beg thy voice.
Struck by death’s dart,
(In all the strain of conflict unconfessed,)
He carried through the years that wounded breast,
That poignant heart.
Last from the fight,
So moves the lion, with unhasting stride,
Dragging the slant spear, broken in his side —
And gains the height !
Wendell P. Stafford.