The Toll of the Bells (Poem by Edwin John Dove Pratt)

Beautiful Poem

The Toll of the Bells (1)
By Edwin John Dove Pratt

We gave them at the harbor every token — 
    The ritual of the guns, and at the mast
    The flag half-high, and as the cortege passed,
All that remained by our dumb hearts unspoken.
And what within the band's low requiem,
    In footfall or in head uncovered fails
    Of final tribute, shall at altar-rails
Around a chancel soon be offered them.

And now a throbbing organ-prelude dwells
    On the eternal story of the sea;
    Following in undertone, the Litany
Ends like a sobbing wave; and now begins
A tale of life's fore-shortened days; now swells
The tidal triumph of Corinthians.

The Toll of the Bells (2)

But neither trumpet-blast, nor the hoarse din
    Of guns, nor the drooped signals from those mute
    Banners, could find a language to salute
The frozen bodies that the ships brought in.
To-day the vaunt is with the grave. Sorrow
    Has raked up faith and burned it like a pile
    Of driftwood, scattering the ashes while
Cathedral voices anthemed God's To-morrow.

Out from the belfries of the town there swung
    Great notes that held the winds and the pagan roll
    Of open seas within their measured toll.
Only the bells' slow ocean tones, that rose
And hushed upon the air, knew how to tongue
That Iliad of Death upon the floes.

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