Gone

Original Text: 
Poems, ed. Robert A. Thompson (London and Melbourne: A. H. Massina, 1920). Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit: http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit
1In Collins Street standeth a statue tall --
2   A statue tall on a pillar of stone,
3Telling its story, to great and small,
4   Of the dust reclaimed from the sand waste lone.
5Weary and wasted, and worn and wan,
6   Feeble and faint, and languid and low,
7He lay on the desert a dying man,
8   Who has gone, my friends, where we all must go.
9There are perils by land, and perils by water,
11Of the landsman lost, but they may be shorter
12   With the mariner lost in the trackless seas;
13And well for him, when the timbers start,
14   And the stout ship reels and settles below,
15Who goes to his doom with as bold a heart
16   As the dead man gone where we all must go.
17Man is stubborn his rights to yield,
18   And redder than dews at eventide
19Are the dews of battle, shed on the field
20   By a nation's wrath or a despot's pride;
21But few who have heard their death-knell roll,
22   From the cannon's lips where they faced the foe,
23Have fallen as stout and steady of soul,
24   As that dead man gone where we all must go.
25Traverse yon spacious burial-ground,
26   Many are sleeping soundly there,
27Who pass'd with mourners standing around,
28   Kindred, and friends, and children fair;
29Did he envy such ending? 'twere hard to say;
30   Had he cause to envy such ending? no;
31Can the spirit feel for the senseless clay
32   When it once has gone where we all must go?
33What matters the sand or the whitening chalk,
34   The blighted herbage, the black'ning log,
35The crooked beak of the eagle-hawk,
36   Or the hot red tongue of the native dog?
38   Yet, in spite of a leaden shroud, we know
39That the bravest and fairest are earth-worms' food,
40   When once they've gone where we all must go.
41With the pistol clenched in his failing hand,
42   With the death mist spread o'er his fading eyes,
43He saw the sun go down on the sand,
44   And he slept, and never saw it rise;
45'Twas well; he toil'd till his task was done,
47The storm was weathered, the battle was won,
48   When he went, my friends, where we all must go.
49God grant that whenever, soon or late,
50   Our course is run and our goal is reach'd,
51We may meet our fate as steady and straight
52   As he whose bones in yon desert bleach'd;
53No tears are needed -- our cheeks are dry,
54   We have none to waste upon living woe;
55Shall we sigh for one who has ceased to sigh,
56   Having gone, my friends, where we all must go?
57We tarry yet, we are toiling still,
58   He is gone and he fares the best,
59He fought against odds, he struggled up hill,
60   He has fairly earned his season of rest;
61No tears are needed -- fill out the wine,
62   Let the goblets clash, and the grape juice flow;
63Ho! pledge me a death-drink, comrade mine,
64   To a brave man gone where we all must go.

Notes

10] ween: think.
obsequies: funeral rites. Back to Line
37] sexton: a person who looks after a church and churchyard, sometimes acting as bell-ringer and grave-digger. Back to Line
46] throe: intense or violent pain and struggle, especially accompanying birth, death or great change. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1867
Publication Notes: 
Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (1867)
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: