John Vance Cheney


The hour was on us; where the man?
The fateful sands unfaltering ran,
  And up the way of tears
  He came into the years.

Our pastoral captain. Forth he came,
As one that answers to his name;
  Nor dreamed how high his charge,
  His work how fair and large,

To set the stones back in the wall
Lest the divided house should fall,
  And peace from men depart,
  Hope and the childlike heart.

We looked on him; "'Tis he," we said,
"Come crownless and unheralded,
  The shepherd who will keep
  The flocks, will fold the sheep."

Unknightly, yes: yet 'twas the mien
Presaging the immortal scene,
  Some battles of His wars
  Who sealeth up the stars.

Not he would take the past between
His hands, wipe valor's tablets clean,
  Commanding greatness wait
  Till he stands at the gate;

Not he would cramp to one small head
The awful laurels of the dead,
  Time's mighty vintage cup,
  And drink all honor up.

No flutter of the banners bold
Borne by the lusty sons of old,
  The haughty conquerors
  Set forward to their wars;

Not his their blare, their pageantries,
Their goal, their glory, was not his;
  Humbly he came to keep
  The flocks, to fold the sheep.

The need comes not without the man;
The prescient hours unceasing ran,
  And up the way of tears
  He came into the years.

Our pastoral captain, skilled to crook
The spear into the pruning hook,
  The simple, kindly man,
  Lincoln, American.

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