The Last Day at Stormfield

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The Last Day at Stormfield

by: Bliss Carman (Author)
from: Echoes from Vagabondia (Pp. 6 - 8)  1912

AT Redding, Connecticut,
The April sunrise pours
Over the hardwood ridges
Softening and greening now
In the first magic of spring.

The wild cherry trees are in bloom,
The bloodroot is white underfoot,
The serene early light flows on,
Touching with glory the world,
And flooding the large upper room
Where a sick man sleeps.
Slowly he opens his eyes,
After long weariness, smiles,
And stretches his arms overhead,
While those about him take heart.

With his awakening strength
(Morning and spring in the air,
The strong clean scents of earth,
The call of the golden-shaft
Ringing across the hills),
He takes up his heartening book,
Opens the volume and reads, —
A page of old rugged Carlyle,
The dour philosopher
Who looked askance upon life,
Lurid, ironical, grim,
Yet sound at the core.

But weariness returns;
He lays the book aside
With his glasses upon the bed,
And gladly sleeps. Sleep,
Blessed abundant sleep,
Is all that he needs.

And when the close of day
Reddens upon the hills
And washes the room with rose,
In the twilight hush
The Summoner comes to him
Ever so gently, unseen,
Touches him on the shoulder;
And with the departing sun
Our great funning friend is gone.

How he has made us laugh!
A whole generation of men
Smiled in the joy of his wit.
But who knows whether he was not
Like those deep jesters of old
Who dwelt at the courts of kings,
Arthur's, Pendragon's, Lear's,
Plying the wise fool's trade,
Making men merry at will,
Hiding their deeper thoughts
Under a motley array, —
Keen-eyed, serious men,
Watching the sorry world,
The gaudy pageant of life,
With pity and wisdom and love

Fearless, extravagant, wild,
His caustic merciless mirth
Was leveled at pompous shams.
Doubt not behind that mask
There dwelt the soul of a man,
Resolute, sorrowing, sage,
As sure a champion of good
As ever rode forth to fray.

Haply — who knows? — somewhere
In Avalon, Isle of Dreams,
In vast contentment at last,
With every grief done away,
While Chaucer and Shakespeare wait,
And Molière hangs on his words,
And Cervantes not far off
Listens and smiles apart,
With that incomparable drawl
He is jesting with Dagonet now.
Additional Information:
Carman's poem was initially created as a tribute to Mark Twain. Published two years after Twain's death, the poem contains numerous details specific to Twain, including the title. "Stormfield" was the name of Twain's home in Redding, Connecticut, and it is where he died in 1910.  Carman's poem, and an account of Twain's final days, are included in Volume VI of The Letters of Mark Twain.