Charles Dickens's Legacy to England
June 25 1870
[Reprinted Wikins and Matz]
Scanned image and text by George P. Landow.
[This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]
There swept a sigh of sorrow universaI
From melancholy Medway's mournful strand,
Upon the Nightwind's desolate dispersal,
To float along the land.
The closing eve had had no shade of sorrow;
In silver haze we saw the planets swim;
But when the sun arose upon the morrow,
We felt the dawn was dim.
With grief-drown'd eyes we read — how briefly stated! —
That he was gone — the man of pure renown:
As if some bark, with our best treasures freighted,
Had in the dark gone down!
'Twas but a whisper, yet more widely sounding
Than the hoarse guns that for warriors roar,
A thrill electric circled all surrounding,
And spread from shore to shore.
And that sad circle stretching, still unbroken,
Around the world to utmost regions sped;
And tears were shed, where'er our tongue is spoken,
To know Charles Dickens — dead.
Within the Abbey let him take his slumber.
Make room, oh great ones of the Long Ago;
In your grand roll Charles Dickens thus to number,
Ye smile, blest shades, we knowl
Not his the coronet, or ermine legal,
No herald-blazoned oice in the state!
Without a title, to the Council Regal
But summoned when too late.
Here lay him down; the dust where he reposes
Is glorious dust of the illustrious dead;
And where he lies shall blossom God's rare roses
When sounds the summons dread!
Calm be his sleep — despite warm tears above him,
Who loved the weak, and never feared the strong,
Whose page was pure, who made all good hearts love him,
Who felt the others' wrong.
Yet though he sleeps lamented of a nation,
The good he did for us shall ne'er decay;
They live — the beings of his fine creation —
To make us glad for aye!
[Reprinted Wikins and Matz, pp. 185-86]
Wilkins, William Glyde and B. W. Matz. Charles Dickens in Caricature and Cartoon. Boston: The Bibliophile Society, 1924. No. 24.
Last modified 19 July 2007