Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/253

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

At the St. Patrick's Day dinner of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, in this year, O'Reilly read his poem, "Erin," with its tender Irish words of endearment:

What need of new tongues! sure the Gaelic is clearest,
Like nature's own voice every word;
"Ahagur! acushla! savourneen!" the dearest
The ear of a girl ever heard.

The death of Henry Longfellow, in March, 1882, evoked this tribute from his brother poet:

Why should we mourn for the beautiful completion of a beautiful life. He died in the later autumn of his grand life. It is well that he was spared the winter. The spreading tree went down in full leafage and rich maturity. We have not seen any signs of decay; and inevitable decay is sadder than death. Our Longfellow's death, like his life, was a noble and quiet poem It was and will remain an illustration of the permanent appreciation of mankind for the beautiful, un-trade-like, spiritual work of the poet. When he succeeds in reaching men's hearts, all other successes are as nought to the poet's. All other honors, emoluments, distinctions, are chips and tinsel compared with the separated and beloved light which surrounds him in the eyes and hearts of the people.

The admiration of O'Reilly for Longfellow was sincere and abiding, for the gentle American poet had been his warm friend and admirer. To another friend, the genial essayist, "Taverner," of the Boston Post, I am indebted for the following anecdote:

I heard of an incident the other day which has a peculiar interest from its association with a man to whose memory tributes of respect and affection have been paid in remarkable measure here in Boston and elsewhere. A lady residing in the suburbs, the wife of a well known clergyman, was in Westminster Abbey, July 5, 1885. She noticed particularly that the bust of Longfellow in Poets' Corner was ornamented with a wreath which, it occurred to her, had been placed there the day before in recognition of the association of Longfellow's poetry with the patriotic spirit emphasized by the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. There was a card attached to this wreath, and the visitor's curiosity was excited to know the name of the person inscribed on it, who had paid so thoughful a tribute to the memory of the beloved American poet. The name proved to be that of a man who, prevented by proscription from setting foot on the soil of the Cornell Catholic