To. W. P.

Original Text: 
George Santayana, Sonnets and Other Verses (New York: Stone and Kimball, 1896): 60-63. PS 2771 1896 Robarts Library
I
2Oh, how much calmer than all southern seas!
3Many your nameless mates, whom the keen breeze
4Wafted from mothers that of old have wept.
5All souls of children taken as they slept
6Are your companions, partners of your ease,
7And the green souls of all these autumn trees
8Are with you through the silent spaces swept.
9Your virgin body gave its gentle breath
10Untainted to the gods. Why should we grieve,
11But that we merit not your holy death?
12We shall not loiter long, your friends and I;
13Living you made it goodlier to live,
14Dead you will make it easier to die.
II
15With you a part of me hath passed away;
16For in the peopled forest of my mind
17A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
18Shall never don again its green array.
19Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
20Have something of their friendliness resigned;
21Another, if I would, I could not find,
22And I am grown much older in a day.
23But yet I treasure in my memory
24Your gift of charity, your mellow ease,
25And the dear honour of your amity;
26For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
27And I scarce know which part may greater be,--
28What I keep of you, or you rob of me.
III
30Until a kinder wind unfurl her sail;
31Your docile spirit, wingèd by this gale,
32Hath at the dawning fled into the light.
33And I half know why heaven deemed it right
34Your youth, and this my joy in youth, should fail;
35God hath them still, for ever they avail,
36Eternity hath borrowed that delight.
37For long ago I taught my thoughts to run
38Where all the great things live that lived of yore,
39And in eternal quiet float and soar;
40There all my loves are gathered into one,
41Where change is not, nor parting any more,
42Nor revolution of the moon and sun.
IV
43In my deep heart these chimes would still have rung
44To toll your passing, had you not been dead;
45For time a sadder mask than death may spread
46Over the face that ever should be young.
47The bough that falls with all its trophies hung
48Falls not too soon, but lays its flower-crowned head
49Most royal in the dust, with no leaf shed
51And though the after world will never hear
52The happy name of one so gently true,
53Nor chronicles write large this fatal year,
54Yet we who loved you, though we be but few,
55Keep you in whatsoe'er is good, and rear
56In our weak virtues monuments to you.

Notes

1] The W. P. in the poem's title is Warwick Potter, a friend who died in an 1893 boating accident. Back to Line
29] bight: bay. Back to Line
50] An allusion to Sir Walter Scott's "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," canto IV, stanza 1:
Breathes there a man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor'd, and unsung.
Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1896
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2003
Form: