Wilkes Booth-April 26, 1865

Pains the sharp sentence the heart in whose wrath
            it was uttered,
                        Now thou art cold;
Vengeance, the headlong, and Justice, with purpose
            close muttered,
                        Loosen their hold.

Death brings atonement; he did that whereof ye
            accuse him,—
                        Murder accurst;
But, from that crisis of crime in which Satan did
            lose him,
                        Suffered the worst.

Harshly the red dawn arose on a deed of his doing,
                        Never to mend;
But harsher days he wore out in the bitter pursuing
                        And the wild end.

So lift the pale flag of truce, wrap those mysteries
            round him,
                        In whose avail
Madness that moved, and the swift retribution that
            found him,
                        Falter and fail.

So the soft purples that quiet the heavens with
                        Willing to fall,
Lend him one fold, his illustrious victim adorning
                        With wider pall.

Back to the cross, where the Saviour uplifted in
                        Bade all souls live,
Turns the rest bosom of Nature, his mother, low
                        Greatest, forgive!

This poem is in the public domain.