A TRIBUTE TO
THE MEMORY OF
James Fleming Cannon
(By Kelso Kelly)
" O ring of which the ruby is out-fall !"
So sang Dan Chaucer in the olden day,
So sang he quaintly in his golden way
A song that sorrow will for aye recall.
And I recall it ; for from out my ring
Of faithful friendships has out-fallen a friend
Of precious worth, who loved with me to trend
By paths of poesy and blithely sing
The beauty of the land where we were born?
That land of valour which he held so dear ;
As in a darkened house I linger here
And think of him in phantasy forlorn.
I grieve ; but not as one whom grim despair
Has 'reft of memories that can lessen grief ;
Full was his life of generous deeds, nor brief
His span of well-spent years ; a gladdening air
Breathed ever where he went; his mirthful mood
Brought radiant happiness ; in tuneful glee
He tuned his notes of merry minstrelsie,
And told old tales that brightened solitude.
A serious-minded, high-souled man was he,
Though loving drollery of bygone days ;
Deep-read in Shakespeare's richly varied phrase
And steeped in lore of rare nobilitie.
A man who clung to good ; who let the ill
Go by unkept, as though it had not been ;
Clean-lipped, kind-worded; face and faith serene,
With reason ever master of his will.
A man who loved ; who was beloved by all
Who valued friendship for true friendship's sake ;
From that sweet phrase a lesson let me take?
" O ring of which the ruby is out-fall! "
Farewell, yet not farewell; for thou art near,
O friend whom I have known; whom yet I know;
Thy steps are not on this dull earth below,
But still thy footfall I shall seem to hear.
Thy gracious presence, too, shall stay with me ;
The good dies not; the face, the form may pass,
But ever ever clear as in a glass
The mind can mirror what sight cannot see.
So as of old together we shall go
Through glade and glen; by wood and wave-beat
And thou shalt sing as in the days of yore,
And I shall listen and my heart shall glow
With gratitude in that old land we love?
The dear dear land of our nativitie ;
There there enthralled in blest captivitie,
Yet free to ramble where we loved to rove.
Does fickle fancy build to my desire
A fabric that allures, dissolves and fades
In gloom that gathers, deepens and pervades,
Quenching the embers of life's lambent fire ?
Have we two parted ? Has the last good-bye
Been sadly said ; the final hand-grip given ?
Men may proclaim that earth owns nought of heaven,
If loving-kindness can decay and die.
Die ! No; true love, true love forever lives,
Endures beyond all mean material things ;
The black clouds pass ; it seems a seraph sings
A joyful song that balm and solace gives.
And clear clear as the blast of clarion
Blown from some mount in an ethereal realm,
I hear the call, " Let sorrow not o'erwhelm ;
Thy friend is with thee ; deem not he is gone."
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