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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907)


SHAKESPEARE and Milton—what third blazoned name

Shall lips of after ages link to these?

His who, beside the wild encircling seas,

Was England’s voice, her voice with one acclaim,

For threescore years; whose word of praise was fame,

Whose scorn gave pause to man’s iniquities.

What strain was his in that Crimean war?

A bugle-call in battle; a low breath,

Plaintive and sweet, above the fields of death!

So year by year the music rolled afar,

From Euxine wastes to flowery Kandahar,

Bearing the laurel or the cypress wreath.

Others shall have their little space of time,

Their proper niche and bust, then fade away

Into the darkness, poets of a day;

But thou, O builder of enduring rhyme,

Thou shalt not pass! Thy fame in every clime

On earth shall live where Saxon speech has sway.

Waft me this verse across the winter sea,

Through light and dark, through mist and blinding sleet,

O winter winds, and lay it at his feet;

Though the poor gift betray my poverty,

At his feet lay it; it may chance that he

Will find no gift, where reverence is, unmeet.