Today, Memorial Day, I’m featuring a poem composed for a memorial service. The year was 1921 and the service was held in memory of William Earl Covey, who died of pneumonia while serving in France in World War I.
William Covey was the son and grandson of noted naturalists in the Adirondacks. His father, Earl Covey, built Covewood Lodge, a wonderful place you can still visit today. “Willie,” as he was known, hiked and camped in those mountains with two childhood friends who also served in World War I but were lucky enough to return. The friends decided there should be a memorial bridge at Twitchell Lake, and a couple years later the bridge was dedicated. The program for the dedication ceremony included this poem, written by a Marion Cleveland:
Far, far above the tops of all the trees
His spirit floats unseen, borne by the breeze:
His spirit, — he who daily loved to roam
Far in the silent wood, his native home.
To him the woods were like an open book,
He knew each tiny stream, each babbling brook;
No secret of the forest but he knew;
No trail he could not find with instinct true.
How different from the peace he lived within
Was whir of shrapnel and the battle’s din!
He came not back, for him the awful price
Of War was truly the great sacrifice.
‘Tis fitting that the stream he loved so well
Should by this bridge of stone be spanned, to tell
Of him, — to those who daily pass it o’er, —
Who loved the woods, but loved his country more.
(H/T to the Adirondack Express, December 17, 2002)