To the memory of Channing
"The Prophets, do they live forever?" -- Zech. I. 5.
Those spirits God ordained,
To stand the watchmen on the outer wall,
Upon whose souls the beams of truth first fall;
They who reveal the ideal, the unattained,
And to their age, in stirring tones, and high,
Speak out for God, Truth, Man, and Liberty --
Such prophets, do they die?
When dust to dust returns,
And the freed spirit seeks again its God,
To those with whom the blessed ones have trod;
Are they then lost? No, still their spirit burns
And quickens in the race; the life they give,
Humanity receives, and they survive,
While Hope and Virtue live.
The landmarks of their age,
High Priests, Kings of the realm of mind, are they,
A realm unbounded as posterity;
The hopeful future is their heritage;
Their words of truth, of love, and faith sublime,
To a dark world of doubt, despair, and crime,
Re-echo through all time.
Such kindling words are thine,
Thou, o'er whose tomb the requiem soundeth still,
Thou from whose lips the silvery tones yet thrill
In many a bosom, waking life divine;
And since thy Master to the world gave token
That for Love's faith the creed of fear was broken,
None higher have been spoken.
Thy reverent eye could see,
Though sinful, weak, and wedded to the clod,
The angel soul still as the child of God,
Heir of His love, born to high destiny:
Not for thy country, creed, or sect speak'st thou,
But him who bears God's image on his brow
Thy brother, high or low.
Great teachers formed thy youth,*
As thou didst stand upon thy native shore,
In the calm sunshine, in the ocean's roar;
Nature and God spoke with thee, and the truth,
That o'er thy spirit then in radiance streamed,
And in thy life so calmly, brightly beamed,
Shall still shine on undimmed.
Ages agone, like thee,
The faméd Greek with kindling aspect stood,
And blent his eloquence with the wind and flood,
By the blue waters of the Egean Sea;
But he heard not their everlasting hymn;
His lofty soul with error's cloud was dim,
And thy great teachers spake not unto him.