"When I and all those that hear me shall have gone to our last home, and
when the mould may have gathered on our memories, as it will on our
tombs:" -- Webster's Speech in the Senate, July, 1850.
The mould upon thy memory! -- No,
Not while one note is rung,
Of those divine, immortal songs
Milton and Shakespeare sung; --
Not till the night of years enshrouds
The Anglo-Saxon tongue.
No! let the flood of Time roll on,
And men and empires die; --
Genius enthroned on lofty heights
Can its dread course defy,
And here on earth, can claim the gift
Can save from that Lethean tide
That sweeps so dark along,
A people's name; -- a people's fame
To future time prolong,
As Troy still lives and only lives
In Homer's deathless song.
What though to buried Nineveh
The traveller may come,
And roll away the stone that hides
That long forgotten tomb; --
He questions its mute past in vain,
Its oracles are dumb.
What though he stand where Balbec stood
Gigantic in its pride;
No voice comes o'er that silent waste,
Lone, desolate and wide; --
They had no bard, no orator,
No statesman, -- and they died.
They lived their little span of life,
They lived and died in vain; --
They sank ingloriously beneath
Oblivion's silent reign,
As sank beneath the Dead Sea wave
The Cities of the Plain.
But for those famed, immortal lands,
Greece and imperial Rome,
Where Genius left its shining mark,
And found its chosen home,
All eloquent with mind they speak,
Wood, wave and crumbling dome.
The honeyed words of Plato still
Float on the echoing air,
The thunders of Demosthenes
AEgean waters bear,
And the pilgrim to the Forum hears
The voice of Tully there.
And thus thy memory shall live,
And thus thy fame resound,
While far-off future ages roll
Their solemn cycles round,
And make this wide, this fair New World
An ancient, classic ground.
Then with our Country's glorious name
Thine own shall be entwined;
Within the Senate's pillared hall
Thine image shall be shrined;
And on the nation's Law shall gleam
Light from thy giant mind.
Our proudest monuments no more
May rise to meet the sky,
The stately Capitol o'erthrown,
Low in the dust may lie;
But mind, sublime above the wreck,
Immortal -- cannot die.