DEAR friend, who, two long centuries ago,
Didst tread where since my grandsires trod,
Along thy devious Usk's untroubled flow,
Breathing thy soul to God.
I seek, I, born in these our later days,
Using the measure thou didst love,
With halting tribute of too tardy praise,
A poet throned above.
I in the self-same venerable halls
And gray quadrangles made my home,
Which heard, new-built, within their recent walls,
Thy youthful footsteps come.
A little grayer now and stiller grown,
The tranquil refuge now, as then,
Where our dear country glories in her own,
Apart from alien men.
There, on thy musings broke the painful sound
Of arms ; the long-plumed cavaliers
Clanged thro the courts the low fat fields around
Were filled with strife and tears.
Constrained by promptings of thy ancient race,
Thy gown and books thou flungst away,
To meet the sturdy Roundhead face to face
On many a hard-fought day,
Till thy soft soul grew sick, and thou didst turn
To our old hills ; and there, ere long,
Love for thy Amoret, at times, would burn
In some too fervid song.
But soon thy wilder pulses stayed, and, life
Grown equable, thy sweet muse mild,
Sobered by tranquil love of child and wife,
Flowed pure and undefiled.
A humble healer thro' a life obscure,
Thou didst expend thy homely days ;
Sweet Swan of Usk ! few know how clear and pure
Are thy unheeded lays.
One poet shall become a household name
Into the nation's heart ingrown ;
One more than equal miss the meed of fame,
And live and die unknown.
So thou, surviving in thy lonely age,
All but thy own undying love
Didst pour upon the sympathetic page,
Words which all hearts can move;
So quaintly fashioned as to add a grace
To the sweet fancies which they bear,
Even as a bronze delved from some ancient place
For very rust shows fair.
'They all are gone into the world of light !'
It is thy widowed muse that sings,
And then mounts upwards from our dazzled sight
On heavenward soaring wings.
'He that hath found some fledged bird's nest may know '
'At first sight if the bird be flown ;'
' But what fair dell or grove he sings in now,'
'' That is to him unknown.'
' And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams '
' Call to the soul when man doth sleep,'
' So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,'
' And into glory peep.'
' O father of eternal life and all '
' Created glories under Thee !'
' Resume Thy Spirit from this world of thrall'
' Into true liberty.'
* * * *
Thou hast rejoined thy dear ones now, and art,
Dear soul, as then thou wouldst be, free.
I, still a prisoner, strive to do my part
In memory of thee.
Thou art so high, and yet unknown: shall I
Repine that I too am obscure ?
Nay, what care I, though all my verse shall die,
If only it is pure ?
So some new singer of the days to be,
Reading this page with soft young eyes,
Shall note the tribute which I pay to thee
With youth's sweet frank surprise.
And musing in himself, perchance shall say,
' Two bards whom centuries part are here
One whose high fame and name defy decay,
And one who held him dear,'