Yes, he is gone, and they are here;
And now the purse he died to fill
Will keep them well for many a year,—
Of course submissive to “God’s will”!
One victim more in the cruel race
With rivals he himself despised,
For children who can ne’er replace
The father whom they sacrificed.
Under my wall
And plane-tree tall
The lake’s blue wavelets rise and fall;
In they creep,
Out they sweep,
And ever their rhythmic measure keep,
As the light breeze over the water steals,
And fills the sails of a score of keels.
Soft and low,
In the evening glow,
Murmurs the fountain’s ceaseless flow;
Clear and sweet,
Fair and fleet,
It came from the mountain, the lake to meet,
And here, where ivy and roses twine,
Streamlet and lake their lives combine.
One by one,
In shade or sun,
Each river of life its course must run;
Slow or fast,
Small or vast,
All come to the waiting sea at last,—
The source from which they first arose,
The home in which they find repose.
Marble fragment, freed at last
From thy prison of the past,
By a spade-thrust brought to light
After centuries of night,—
Let me take thee in my hand,
And thy legend understand.
On thy mutilated face
It is difficult to trace
All that once was graven here;
But at least two words are clear,—
Reading still, as all agree,
“To my well-beloved wife";—
Only this; but of her life,
Rank or title, age or name,
Or the place from which she came,
Nothing further can be known
Than is taught us by this stone.
Touching words they are, which tell
Of a husband’s last farewell;
Cry of a despairing heart
That has seen a wife depart
On death’s dark, uncharted sea;—
Was this lady still a bride,
Or a matron, when she died?
Had she children? Was she fair?
Bright with joy, or bowed with care?
Ah, pathetic mystery!
Yet, in truth, what matters all,
Save the fact these words recall?
She was loved,—a consort mourned
In the home she had adorned;
And her husband long ago
Left the words which tell us so.
Strange, that these alone remain,—
Words of mingled love and pain!
Time, which broke or blurred the rest,
Tenderly has spared the best;
For what better could there be?
Ancient relic, white and pure,
May thine epitaph endure,
While the lake with dimpled smile
Mirrors this historic isle!
Precious are thy words of old,
Worthy of a script of gold!
Soon upon this island’s shrine
Shalt thou like a jewel shine,—
Dearest of its treasure-trove,
Emblem of a deathless love
From its sepulchre set free,—