Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/509

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But stainless and scatheless, out of the strife,
He had carried his colors safer than life.
By the river's brink, without weapon or shield,
He faced the victors. The thick-heart mist
He dashed from his eyes, and the silk he kissed
Ere he held it aloft in the setting sun.
As proudly as if the fight were won.
And he smiled when they ordered him to yield.

Ensign Epps, with his broken blade,
Cut the silk from the gilded staff,
Which he poised like a spear till the charge was made.
And hurled at the leader with a laugh.
Then round his breast, like the scarf of his love.
He tied the colors his heart above,
And plunged in his armor into the tide,
And there, in his dress of honor, died.

Where are the lessons your kinglings teach?
And what is text of your proud commanders?
Out of the centuries, heroes reach
With the scroll of a deed, with the word of a story,
Of one man's truth and of all men's glory,
Like Ensign Epps at the battle of Flanders.


I AM tired of planning and toiling
In the crowded hives of men;
Heart-weary of building and spoiling,
And spoiling and building again.
And I long for the dear old river,
Where I dreamed my youth away;
For a dreamer lives forever,
And a toiler dies in a day.