James Clarence Mangan, “The Nameless One”

Roll forth, my song, like the rushing river,
That sweeps along to the mighty sea;
God will inspire me while I deliver
  My soul of thee!

Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening
Amid the last homes of youth and eld,
That there was once one whose veins ran lightning
  No eye beheld.

Tell how his boyhood was one drear night-hour,
How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom,
No star of all heaven sends to light our

  Path to the tomb.

Roll on, my song, and to after ages
Tell how, disdaining all earth can give,
He would have taught men, from wisdom’s pages,  
The way to live.

And tell how trampled, derided, hated,
And worn by weakness, disease, and wrong,
He fled for shelter to God, who mated
  His soul with song.

With song which alway, sublime or vapid,
Flowed like a rill in the morning beam,
Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid
  A mountain stream.

Tell how this Nameless, condemned for years long
To herd with demons from hell beneath,
Saw things that made him, with groans and tears,
  long
 For even death.

Go on to tell how, with genius wasted,
Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love,
With spirit shipwrecked, and young hopes blasted,
  He still, still strove.

Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others,
And some whose hands should have wrought for bit,
(If children live not for sires and mothers),
  His mind grew dim.

And he fell far through that pit abysmal
The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns,
And pawned his soul for the devil’s dismal
  Stock of returns.

But yet redeemed it in days of darkness
And shapes and signs of the final wrath,
When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness,
  Stood on his path.

And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow,
And want, and sickness, and houseless nights,
He bides in calmness the silent morrow,
  That no ray lights.

And lives he still, then? Yes! Old and hoary
At thirty-nine, from despair and woe,
He lives enduring what future story
  Will never know.

Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble,
Deep in your bosoms! There let him dwell!
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble,
  Here and in hell.

 

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