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

April 17

On the Death of Benjamin Franklin

By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)

(April 17, 1790)

THUS, some tall tree that long hath stood

The glory of its native wood,

By storms destroyed, or length of years,

Demands the tribute of our tears.

The pile, that took long time to raise,

To dust returns by slow decays;

But, when its destined years are o’er,

We must regret the loss the more.

So long accustomed to your aid,

The world laments your exit made;

So long befriended by your art,

Philosopher, ’tis hard to part!—

When monarchs tumble to the ground

Successors easily are found;

But, matchless Franklin! what a few

Can hope to rival such as you,

Who seized from kings their sceptred pride,

And turned the lightning’s darts aside!