This final episode in his life was not unusual; much of his life was spent going back and forth between Europe and the United States. Read had successfully balanced the career of both an artist and a writer. Perhaps his most famous poem remains "Sheridan's Ride"; among his most famous paintings is the portrait he painted of the daughters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (familiar from the elder poet's poem "The Children's Hour"). His poem "The Deserted Road" (c. 1853) makes a fitting tribute on the anniversary of his death:
Ancient road, that wind'st deserted
Through the level of the vale,
Sweeping toward the crowded market
Like a stream without a sail;
Standing by thee, I look backward,
And, as in the light of dreams,
See the years descend and vanish,
Like thy whitely tented teams.
Here I stroll along the village
As in youth's departed morn;
But I miss the crowded coaches,
And the driver's bugle-horn,—
Miss the crowd of jovial teamsters
Filling buckets at the wells,
With their wains from Conestoga,
And their orchestras of bells.
To the mossy way-side tavern
Comes the noisy throng no more,
And the faded sign, complaining,
Swings, unnoticed, at the door;
While the old, decrepit tollman,
Waiting for the few who pass,
Beads the melancholy story
In the thickly-springing grass.
Ancient highway, thou art vanquish'd;
The usurper of the vale
Rolls, in fiery, iron rattle,
Exultations on the gale.
Thou art vanquish'd and neglected;
But the good which thou hast done,
Though by man it be forgotten,
Shall be deathless as the sun.
Though neglected, gray, and grassy,
Still I pray that my decline
May be through as vernal valleys
And as blest a calm as thine.