Death has Crowned him a Martyr

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(Written on the day of President McKinley’s death)

   In the midst of sunny waters, lo! the mighty Ship of State
   Staggers, bruised and torn and wounded by a derelict of fate,
   One that drifted from its moorings in the anchorage of hate.

   On the deck our noble Pilot, in the glory of his prime,
   Lies in woe-impelling silence, dead before his hour or time,
   Victim of a mind self-centred in a Godless fool of crime.

   One of earth’s dissension-breeders, one of Hate’s unreasoning tools,
   In the annals of the ages, when the world’s hot anger cools,
   He who sought for Crime’s distinction shall be known as Chief of
   Fools.

   In the annals of the ages, he who had no thought of fame
   (Keeping on the path of duty, caring not for praise or blame),
   Close beside the deathless Lincoln, writ in light, will shine his
   name.

   Youth proclaimed him as a hero; time, a statesman; love, a man;
   Death has crowned him as a martyr,—so from goal to goal he ran,
   Knowing all the sum of glory that a human life may span.

   He was chosen by the people; not an accident of birth
   Made him ruler of a nation, but his own intrinsic worth.
   Fools may govern over kingdoms—not republics of the earth.

   He has raised the lovers’ standard by his loyalty and faith,
   He has shown how virile manhood may keep free from scandal’s breath.
   He has gazed, with trust unshaken, in the awful eyes of Death.

   In the mighty march of progress he has sought to do his best.
   Let his enemies be silent, as we lay him down to rest,
   And may God assuage the anguish of one suffering woman’s breast.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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