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Anti-Slavery Poems
The Lost Statesman

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Written on hearing of the death of Silas Wright of New York.

As they who, tossing midst the storm at night,
While turning shoreward, where a beacon shone,
Meet the walled blackness of the heaven alone,
So, on the turbulent waves of party tossed,
In gloom and tempest, men have seen thy light
Quenched in the darkness. At thy hour of noon,
While life was pleasant to thy undimmed sight,
And, day by day, within thy spirit grew
A holier hope than young Ambition knew,
As through thy rural quiet, not in vain,
Pierced the sharp thrill of Freedom's cry of pain,
Man of the millions, thou art lost too soon
Portents at which the bravest stand aghast,--
The birth-throes of a Future, strange and vast,
Alarm the land; yet thou, so wise and strong,
Suddenly summoned to the burial bed,
Lapped in its slumbers deep and ever long,
Hear'st not the tumult surging overhead.
Who now shall rally Freedom's scattering host?
Who wear the mantle of the leader lost?
Who stay the march of slavery? He whose voice
Hath called thee from thy task-field shall not lack
Yet bolder champions, to beat bravely back
The wrong which, through his poor ones, reaches Him:
Yet firmer hands shall Freedom's torchlights trim,
And wave them high across the abysmal black,
Till bound, dumb millions there shall see them and rejoice.

10th mo., 1847.
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