Home  »  library  »  poem  »  The Nameless One

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

The Nameless One

By James Clarence Mangan (1803–1849)

ROLL forth, my song, like the rushing river

That sweeps along to the mighty sea;

God will inspire me while I deliver

My soul of thee!

Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening

Amid the last homes of youth and eld,

That there was once one whose veins ran lightning

No eye beheld.

Tell how his boyhood was one drear night hour;

How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom,

No star of all heaven sends to light our

Path to the tomb.

Roll on, my song, and to after ages

Tell how, disdaining all earth can give,

He would have taught men, from wisdom’s pages,

The way to live.

And tell how, trampled, derided, hated,

And worn by weakness, disease, and wrong,

He fled for shelter to God, who mated

His soul with song—

With song which alway, sublime or vapid,

Flowed like a rill in the morning beam,

Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid—

A mountain stream.

Tell how this Nameless, condemned for years long

To herd with demons from hell beneath,

Saw things that made him, with groans and tears, long

For even death.

Go on to tell how, with genius wasted,

Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love,

With spirit shipwrecked, and young hopes blasted,

He still, still strove.

Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others,

And some whose hands should have wrought for him

(If children live not for sires and mothers),

His mind grew dim.

And he fell far through that pit abysmal,—

The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns,—

And pawned his soul for the devil’s dismal

Stock of returns.

But yet redeemed it in days of darkness,

And shapes and signs of the final wrath,

When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness,

Stood on his path.

And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow,

And want, and sickness, and houseless nights,

He bides in calmness the silent morrow,

That no ray lights.

And lives he still, then? Yes: old and hoary

At thirty-nine, from despair and woe,

He lives, enduring what future story

Will never know.

Him grant a grave too, ye pitying noble,

Deep in your bosoms! There let him dwell!

He too had tears for all souls in trouble

Here and in hell.