Wheel of the Great

There are tragedies we miss unknowing,
And new hopes: sudden coming and going
Of men and ladies who move the world
Through statesmanship or art. Unfurled
Their standards shine in myriad ways
And call forth testaments of praise.
Their works and actions leave a mark,
Becoming stars to guide the bark
Of future travelers through the dark,
And to dull hearts, bequeath a spark
Of greatness, knowledge of the great,
A wealth that we may celebrate
And seek to build our greatness on.
The movers show our hearts the dawn,
But before they know their own bequest
They leave us like an honored guest,
Depart perforce to darker zones
Where stone-life seals up their bones.

How many times does someone die
Within your life's short, fitful sigh
Who leaves you with a gift divine
Who reaches across the gulf of time
And touches, wounds you with a dream?
Their life that was becomes the beam
That guides, illuminates your days,
And yet you knew not who to praise
For when they died, you did not know
That their life-works would touch your soul.

How many children have been born
Whose brightness we have yet to learn,
Whose deeds will move our children so
As the departed moved us too?
We who are small and great alike
Rely on these to come awake.
Before us, greatness of the past
And future meet and we are cast
Into a solemn stewardship:
To record the words from heroes lips,
And speak them in our children's ears
To carry them to prosperous years.
Thus praise the dead, though their ears be stone,
And praise the prodigy to come!

George Chadderdon © 2002