On Returning Certain Published Letters of W. M. T.

On Reading Certain Published Letters of W. M. T.  (1887) 
by H. C. Bunner

Extracted from Scribner's magazine, 1887, p. 448. Probably in reaction to A Collection of Unpublished Letters of Thackeray published in the same magazine


ON READING CERTAIN PUBLISHED LETTERS OF W. M. T.


By H. C. Bunner.


It is as though the gates of heaven swung,
Once only, backward, and a spirit shone
Upon us, with a face to which there clung
Naught of that mortal veil which sore belies,
But looked such love from such high-changed eyes.
That, even from earth, we knew them for his own.


Knew them for his, and marvelled; for he came
Among us, and went from us, and we knew
Only the smoke and ash that hid the flame,
Only the cloak and vestment of his soul;
And knew his priesthood only by his stole—
And, thus unknown, he went his journey through.


Yet there were some who knew him, though his face
Was never seen by them; although his hand
Lay never warm in theirs, they yet had grace
To see, past all misjudgment: his true heart
Throbbed for them in the creatures of his art,
And they could read his words, and understand.


All men may know him now, and know how kind
The hand in chastisement so sure and strong—
All men may know him now, and dullards blind
Into the secrets of his soul may see;
And all shall love—but, Steadfast Greatheart, we,
We knew thee when the wide world did thee wrong.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.