June 15, 2011

Booth: Our thoughts pursue his track

In 1880, about 13 years before his death, Edwin Booth traveled to Europe. The well-known and respected actor was honored by his friends with a farewell breakfast in New York on June 15, 1880. Among his friends was William Winter, Booth's future biographer, who offered a poetic tribute:

His barque will fade, in mist and night,
   Across the dim sea-line,
And coldly on our aching sight
   The solemn stars will shine —
All, all in mournful silence, save
   For ocean's distant roar —
Heard where the slow, regretful wave
   Sobs on the lonely shore.

But, oh, while, winged with love and prayer,
   Our thoughts pursue his track,
What glorious sights the midnight air
   Will proudly waft us back!
What golden words will nutter down
   From many a peak of fame,
What glittering shapes of old renown
   That cluster round his name!

...But — best of all! will softly rise
   His form of manly grace —
The noble brow, the honest eyes,
   The sweetly patient face,
The loving heart, the stately mind
   That, conquering every ill,
Through seas of trouble cast behind,
   Was grandly steadfast still!

Though skies might gloom and tempest rave,
   Though friends and hopes might fall,
His constant spirit, simply brave;
   Would meet and suffer all —
Would calmly smile at fortune's frown,
   Supreme o'er gain or loss;
And he the worthiest wears the crown
   That gently bore the cross!

...Farewell ! nor mist, nor flying cloud,
   Nor night can ever dim
The wreath of honours, pure and proud,
   Our hearts have twined for him!
But bells of memory still shall chime,
   And violets star the sod,
Till our last broken wave of time
   Dies on the shores of God.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these two poetic tributes to Edwin Booth within a week. They create a pleasant harmony.