A poem about Theodore Roosevelt

I wrote about President Theodore Roosevelt as one of my heroes a couple of days or so ago. I forgot to mention that he became the first US President to be conferred a  Nobel Peace Prize. Unlike the current president, he did not earn it for future hopes but for more concrete achievements – sagelike diplomacy and mediation which helped end a ruinous conflict in a far corner of the world.

However,  TR was a great individual and solid and credible achievements that I have earnestly desired and aspired to emulate. But then they seem fated to remain mere aspirations – both in this world and the next. One more facet of his illustrious life I must mention what was that his death inspired a moving poetic tribute by one of English language’s greatest poets – Rudyard Kipling.

Kipling wrote  ‘Great Heart’ in commemoration of Roosevelt. They had met in 1895 and remained in correspondence until 1919. Kipling admired Roosevelt as a ‘big stick’ and man of action.

 “… I’m awfully heavy-hearted about Roosevelt. He was the best friend we had over there and I can’t see who takes his place … he sent me a long and sad (I don’t wonder) letter the week before …” Kipling wrote in a letter dated Jan 8, 1919 – two days after TR’s death to his friend and the equally famous writer of ‘Ganj-e-Suleiman’….sorry I mean King Solomon’s Mines, She and many other ripping adventure yarns, H. Rider Haggard.

This is the poem… (the reference is explained by Kipling himself). I wish I could ever inspire such a poetic tribute myself….. maybe in a much better world.

Great-Heart  ( Theodore Roosevelt)

The interpreter then called for a man-servant of his, one Great-Heart. — (John) Bunyan’s’ Pilgrim’s Process.

Concerning brave Captains
Our age hath made known
For all men to honour,
One standeth alone,
Of whom, o’er both oceans,
Both peoples may say:
“Our realm is diminished
With Great-Heart away.”

In purpose unsparing,
In action no less,
The labours he praised
He would seek and profess
Through travail and battle,
At hazard and pain. . . .
And our world is none the braver
Since Great-Heart was ta’en!

Plain speech with plain folk,
And plain words for false things,
Plain faith in plain dealing
‘Twixt neighbours or kings,
He used and he followed,
However it sped. . . .
Oh, our world is none more honest
Now Great-Heart is dead!

The heat of his spirit
Struck warm through all lands;
For he loved such as showed
‘Emselves men of their hands;
In love, as in hate,
Paying home to the last. . . .
But our world is none the kinder
Now Great-Heart hath passed!

Hard-schooled by long power,
Yet most humble of mind
Where aught that he was
Might advantage mankind.
Leal servant, loved master,
Rare comrade, sure guide. . . .
Oh, our world is none the safer
Now Great-Heart hath died!

Let those who would handle
Make sure they can wield
His far-reaching sword
And his close-guarding shield:
For those who must journey
Henceforward alone
Have need of stout convoy
Now Great-Heart is gone.


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