Brighter now glowed his cheek, and still
With that unchanging, ever-youthful glow,—
That courage which o’ercomes, in hard-fought fight,
Sooner or later, every earthly foe,—
That faith which, soaring to the realms of light,
Now boldly presseth on, now bendeth low,
So that the good may work, wax, thrive amain,
So that the day the noble may attain.
Yet, though so skilled, of such transcendent
This boarded scaffold doth he not despise;
The fate that on its axis turns the earth
From day to night, here shows he to our eyes,
Raising, through many a work of glorious birth,
Art and the artist’s fame up toward the skies.
He fills with blossoms of the noblest strife,
With life itself, this effigy of life.
His giant-step, as ye full surely know,
Measured the circle of the will and deed,
Each country’s changing thoughts and morals, too,
The darksome book with clearness could he read;
Yet how he, breathless ’midst his friends so true,
Despaired in sorrow, scarce from pain was freed,—
All this have we, in sadly happy years,
For he was ours, bewailed with feeling tears.
When from the agonizing weight of grief
He raised his eyes upon the world again,
We showed him how his thoughts might find relief
From the uncertain present’s heavy chain,
Gave his fresh-kindled mind a respite brief,
With kindly skill beguiling every pain,
And e’en at eve when setting was his sun,
From his wan cheeks a gentle smile we won.
Full early had he read the stern decree,
Sorrow and death to him, alas, were known;
Ofttimes recovering, now departed he,—
Dread tidings, that our hearts had feared to own!
Yet his transfigured being now can see
Itself, e’en here on earth, transfigured grown.
What his own age reproved, and deemed a crime,
Hath been ennobled now by death and time.
And many a soul that with him strove in
And his great merit grudged to recognize,
Now feels the impress of his wondrous might,
And in his magic fetters gladly lies;
E’en to the highest hath he winged his flight,
In close communion linked with all we prize.
Extol him then! What mortals while they live
But half receive, posterity shall give.
Thus is he left us, who so long ago,—
Ten years, alas, already!—turned from earth;
We all, to our great joy, his precepts know,
Oh, may the world confess their priceless worth!
In swelling tide toward every region flow
The thoughts that were his own peculiar birth;
He gleams like some departing meteor bright,
Combining, with his own, eternal light.