158. the bones of Washington.A year ago, and by the maples brown,
O'erhanging swift Potomac's broadened wave,
Bareheaded stood the heir of England's crown,
By the poor stone that shuts an ill-kept grave,
Giving meet reverence to the dead that lay
Beneath the stripes and stars carved on that stone,
Which nothing of inscription doth display,
To mar the majesty that broods upon
The ten plain letters spelling Washington.
England's crown-prince at this arch-rebel's tomb,
First Magistrate, twice-chosen, of the States
That rose impatient for more elbow-room,
And flung the English crown out of their gates.
The contrast of those times and these so shows,
In this respect of Prince for President,
That e'en the trite prize-poem-maker flows
Into some lines of grave and deep intent,
Describing that young head in solemn reverence bent.
Passed there a stir from wasting bone to bone,--
Ran there a thrill through the great chief's gray dust,
That the old king's great-grandson by his stone
Should bow the head, owning him great and just?
Hovered his placid spirit near, and blest
That latest victory of truth o'er time,
When discords, slow but sure resolved, attest
The high and holy harmonies which chime
Their broader music through the spheres sublime?
Or was there foresight of the woe to be
Before the lapse of twelve months and a day?
Was that great spirit prescient to see
The stripes and stars torn from that flag away?
To know the work that he had lived to do,
And saw and said, was good, before he died,
Undone — his glorious Union cleft in two,
And cleaving more and more on every side,
Till none can say how far the fragments may divide.
Saw he the day that we see with amaze,
When those to whom his life from youth he gave,
His own Virginians, his dust should raise
Out of the shelter of that sacred grave,
Regardless of the curse that lies on those
Whose hands disturb even the common dead!--
Brothers, from brothers bearing, as from foes,
His bones that oft their sires to battle led,
Who now draw impious swords, near his dishonored bed?