For Charles Dickens
Above our dear Romancer's dust
Grief takes the place of praise,
Because of sudden cypress thrust
Amid the old-earned bays.
Ah! when shall such another friend
By England's fireside sit,
To tell her of her faults, yet blend
Sage words with kindly wit?
He brings no pageants of the past
To wile our hearts away;
But wins our love for those who cast
Their lot with ours to-day.
He gives us laughter glad and long;
He gives us tears as pure;
He shames us with the published wrong
We meted to the poor.
Through webs and dust and weather-stains,
His sunlike genius paints,
On life's transfigured chancel-panes,
The angels and the saints.
He bade us to a lordly feast,
And gave us of his best;
And vanished, while the mirth increased,
To be Another's guest.
For Death had summoned him, in haste,
Where hands of the Divine
Pour out, for him who toiled to taste,
The Paradisal wine.
Well, God be thanked, we did not wait
His greatness to discern
By funeral lights, in that Too-Late
When ashes fill the urn.