S. G. W. (Samuel Greene Wheeler) Benjamin.

Ode on the death of Abraham Lincoln (Volume 1) online

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15, Water Street.

The first draught of these lines appeared in the
" New- York Independent." As they may respond,
in a slight degree, to the popular sentiment at this
time, a few copies have been issued in the present
form, with some changes and additions.



With a noble nature and great gifts

Was he endowed, — courage, discretion, wit,

An equal temper and an ample soul,

Rock-bound and fortified against assaults

Of transitory passion, but below

Built on a surging subterranean fire

That stirred and lifted him to high attempts.

Wherefore with honor lay him in his grave."

Philip Van Artavelde.

O D E.


1" ET the nation weep,
""^ As they bear the martyr
To his hist, long sleep !


Ay, let the nation weep !
Another such as lie
We never more shall see
This side eternity.


Ay, let the nation weep !
And let the slow bells toll
For the noblest soul

That ever dwelt in man,

Or ever led the van

Of Freedom's hosts to victory,

And rang the charge of Liberty !


Well may the nation w^eep,

And shudder at the stroke

That all their slumbering wrath awoke.

O wretch accurst, whose impious hand could dare

To smite the leader of the people's choice.

Or seek to harm a single hair

Of him whose heart, whose hand, whose voice,

Were all employed to work the people's good.

And stop the flow of fratricidal blood !

And O, ye modern Pharaohs, ye whose gold

Was gathered by the souls ye bred and bought and

sold, —
Ye, that, heedless of the warning signs of God,

Sought to bring again the Iron age,

To imbrute the human body, and to cage

The soaring spirit of mankind !

Your hearts were stone, your eyes were blind,

And ye defied

The Almighty in your pride !

We ask no more, — we know that God is just ;

Only let not the sword of Justice rust ;

We ask no more, — the bolt that hurled

Our country's saviour to the dust

Made you a mockery and a byword to the world !


And him, the good, the great,
Crowned by a martyr's fate.
What words can fitly utter forth
His manly virtues and his worth ?
Perchance he did not seem
So great to those who deem


A traitor or a Nero

May be a glorious hero,

If he but wear a classic face,

Or ape the superficial grace

That marks the scion of a titled race.

Not such was he for whom we mourn ;

Of gentle blood he was not born,

Nor heir to patrimonial lands

Tilled by the bondman's unrequited hands.

He inherited a heart,

As an infant's, void of art ;

Yet imbued with a Titanic might,

In his hate of wrong, his love of right :

His was the celestial beauty

Of a soul that does its duty.

Noble patriot, husband, father.

He did not seek to gather

The laurels of a wild ambition.

That only yield a vain fruition.

To benefit mankind, — this was his aim ;

To labor and to live unstained with blame :

He died without a blot upon his name.

Let a requiem sublime

Ascend from every clime I

Let the weary and oppressed,

From north and south, from east and west,

For whom his great heart yearned,

For whom his spirit burned.

To give their sufferings rest, —

Let all arise with lamentation,

And, with his own beloved nation.

Bequeath the fame

Of Lincoln's name —

A heritage for veneration —

To the remotest ofeneration !


Ay, let the nation weep.
While the slow bells toll,


And the cannon roll,

For the funeral knoll

Of his mighty soul !

Ye cannot break the slumber deep

That wraps his limbs in quiet sleep ;

He cannot hear

The crowds that tread

Around his bier,

Nor see the tears they shed :

For he nevermore shall dwell

With the people that he loved so well.

Let the nation's sorrow have its way

For him who was the nation's stay !


Our hearts are sad, our eyes are dim ;
We hoped long years of rest for him,
To enjoy the peace for which he wrought.
The peace with his own life-blood bought.


But he has rest
Among the blest,
And with the Christ he loved.
Enough ! his work was done ;
The victor's crown was won ;
And God himself removed
The patriot-martyr to his home.
Enough ! his task was done ;
For us remains to guard his tomb,

To bid the willow wave

Around the sacred grave

Of him who loosed the slave.

And weave the fame

Of Lincoln's name

With Washington's renown, —

Twin stars of glory,

Unftidino^ in our nation's story.



His work is done ;

Ou7' work is scarce beoun :

' Tis ours to keep the nation that was saved

By his untiring zeal and earnest toil,

And by the valor of the hosts that braved

The cannon's shot, and sleep beneatli the soil ;

'Tis ours to plant the school, to teach the rising

Of every hue, in every hamlet of the South ;
To instruct and elevate the public mind.
And show the last-discovered problem to mankind.
That Reason's sway outlives the tyrant's power.
That Liberty gives strength, and might makes right

no more.
jS^o longer let the demagogue with bribes,
With brazen face and lying diatribes,
Juggle votes from every facile fool


Whose unlettered brain becomes the tool

For schemes of avarice and misrule.

Let loftier motives than the love of self,

The greed for gold, for place, for power and pelf.

Direct the people to their truest gain.

Hasten the years when all who vote can read.

When all refuse their ignorance to plead.

And hate of evil is the universal creed.
So shall we honor best the liallowed graves
Upon a hundred fields of battle, where the waves
Of treason dashed against our ship of state.
Dashed with crimson foam, but dashed in vain ;
So shall we heed the warning voice of him
Whose name, unsullied by the hand of Fate,
Shall be a household word in every clime
When kings are obsolete, when diadems grow dim,
And empires, palsy - stricken, plunge adown the
abvss of time.



Let his monument arise,

Pointing upward to the skies,

Founded by a nation's heart,

Grandly shaped in every part

By the master-minds of art,

And consecrated by a nation's tears,

To teach throughout the after-time,

To every tribe, in every clime,

That toil for others is sublime.

Immortal Patriot ! through the mist of years

That in the future are to come, —

When we who saw thee here are gone, —

We view thy heaven-aspiring tomb

Illumined by the roseate dawn

Of the millennial day.

When Peace shall hold her sway.

And bring Saturnian eras ; when the roar


O' the battle's thunder shall be heard no more ;
When Liberty and Truth shall reign for evermore,
From Oregon to Florida's perpetual May,
From Shasta's awful peak to Massachusetts Bay, —
Then our children's children, by the cottage door.
In the schoolroom, from the pulpit, at the bar.
Shall look up to thee as to a beacon star.
And deduce the lesson from thy life and death.
That the patriot's lofty courage and the Christian's

Conquer honors that outweigh Ambition's gaudiest

Triumph o'er the grave, and open the gates of Para-

LB S '\2


Online LibraryS. G. W. (Samuel Greene Wheeler) BenjaminOde on the death of Abraham Lincoln (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 1)