William Ross Wallace

In the Memory of the Heroic Captain Herndon

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Lost In The Wreck Of The "Central America"

(Inscribed To Mrs. W. B. Magruder of Washingtom City.)


How soft the murmur of this breeze!
How deep the Ocean’s purple hue I
How goldenly over all the Sun
Beams in the quiet of the Blue!
Ab, who would dream that aught but bliss
And peace could take a sea like this?


Yet but a few brief days ago,
Death shuddered on the stormy wave.
And Horror shrieked and clasped her hands,
O’er Ocean turning to a grave
Within whose everlasting deep
Four hundred forms went down to sleep.


o ye so coldly resting here!
Full many a heart your memory holds;
And many an eye is dim with grief
In Sorrow’s pale and silent folds—
But HERNDON! o’er thy glorious shroud
See a whole Nation wails aloud.


Is it not glorious? Honor leans
As fondly o’er those burial seas
As e’er she leaned in days of yore
Above her own Miltiades:
No terror thine in parting deck,
The last wild crash, the sinking wreck!


And now with all her banners furled,
Thy Nation in the shadow dim,
Is chanting by the shronding wave
The sad words of a funeral hymn—
What praises through the music swell,
That hero-spirits love so well!


They tell of courage never quelled;
Of duty nobly, calmly done:
Of th t dark, awful, lonely death;
Of everlasting glory won:
And dearer still, a Nation’s love
For him imparadised above.


Defier of the wratliful wave!
Brave warrior of the mighty storm!
Whenever floats the starry flag
Where silently lies thy gallant form,
How shall its eagle be unfurled
In broader grandeur to the world!


Then calmly slumber in the wave:
Ah, our’s the mighty loss, not thine
Whose high, heroic memory gleams
Forevermore in Glory’s shrine:
He wins a deathless prize whose breath
For Man is gladly given to death.

New York, 1857.

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William Ross Wallace