Two Monuments

by Jean Blewett

Two men were born the self-same hour:
The one was heir to untold wealth,
To pride of birth and love of power;
The other's heritage was health.

A sturdy frame, an honest heart,
Of human sympathy a store,
A strength and will to do his part,
A nature wholesome to the core.

The two grew up to man's estate,
And took their places in the strife:
One found a sphere both wide and great,
One found the toil and stress of life.

Fate is a partial jade, I trow;
She threw the rich man gold and frame,
The laurel wreath to deck his brow,
High place, the multitude's acclaim.

The common things the other had-
The common hopes to thrill him deep,
The common joys to make him glad,
The common griefs to make him weep.

No high ambitions fired his breast;
The peace of God, the love of friend,
Of wife and child, these seemed the best,
These held and swayed him to the end.

The two grew old, and death's clear call
Came to them both the self-same day:
To him whose name was known to all,
To him who walked his lowly way.

Down to his grave the rich man went,
With cortege long, with pomp and pride,
O'er him was reared a monument
That told his virtues far and wide;

Told of his wealth, his lineage high,
His statesmanship, his trophies won,
How he had filled the public eye-
But empty praise when all was done.

The other found a narrow bed
Within God's acre, peaceful, lone;
The throng cared not that he was dead,
A man uncultured and unknown.

But in the house that he had left
A woman whispered through her tears:
'Christ, comfort me, who am bereft
Of love that failed not through the years.'

And oft his stalwart sons and tall
Would murmur as their eyes grew dim:
'A useful life is best of all;
God grant we pattern after him!'

A sick man sighed: 'I'll miss his smile;'
A shrivelled crone did shake her head
And mutter to herself the while
How oft his hand had given bread.

A maimed child sobbed: 'He carried me
To gather blossoms in the wood,'
And more than one said, brokenly:
'A man who always did me good.'

One came at twilight to the grave,
And knelt and kissed the fresh-turned sod.
'Oh, faithful soul,' she cried, 'and brave,
'Twas you that led me back to God!

'Back from the sin, the shame, the snare-
Forget your trust and faith?-not I;
Each helpful word, each tender prayer,
I will remember till I die!'

Two men that sleep: above the one
The monument an artist's hand
Has fashioned from the block of stone,
A thing of beauty, tall and grand;

Above the other naught-what then?
Ere he did fold his hands for rest,
He builded in the hearts of men
The fairest monument and best.

Last updated April 28, 2023