James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

September 19

At the President’s Grave

By Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)

  • James A. Garfield, shot at Washington on July 2d, but lingered for over two months. He died on Sept. 19, 1881.

  • ALL summer long the people knelt

    And listened at the sick man’s door:

    Each pang which that pale sufferer felt

    Throbbed through the land from shore to shore;

    And as the all-dreaded hour drew nigh,

    What breathless watching, night and day!

    What tears, what prayers! Great God on high,—

    Have we forgotten how to pray!

    O broken-hearted, widowed one,

    Forgive us if we press too near!

    Dead is our husband, father, son,—

    For we are all one household here.

    And not alone here by the sea,

    And not in his own land alone,

    Are tears of anguish shed with thee—

    In this one loss the world is one.

    A man not perfect, but of heart

    So high, of such heroic rage,

    That even his hopes became a part

    Of earth’s eternal heritage.