DR. MITCHELL'S GRAVE
Note.—Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a distinguished professor of the University of North Carolina, lost his life, June 27, 1857, while exploring one of the mountain peaks of Western North Carolina. He was buried on the summit of the mountain where a monument later was erected to his memory. The mountain was named Mitchell's Peak in his honor.
On the highest peak of a mighty chain
Of hill and mountain fastness,
Where nature doth her primal rule maintain
Amid their solemn vastness,
There's a lonely grave that the mountain gave,
Which the sorrowing moonbeams gently lave.
No echoing sound of the city's hum
Shall reach the peaceful sleeper;
No note of joy or grief to him shall come
From plow-boy or from reaper;
But silent he'll sleep, while the ivies creep,
And the angels their sacred vigils keep.
The deafening peals of the thunder's voice
Shall never break his dreaming,
Though the tempests wild in their might rejoice
Amid the lightning's gleaming;
His rest still is deep on the mountain steep,
Though his pupils mourn and his loved ones weep.
The tremulous trills of the mother bird,
As she sings her songs so lowly,
Though a sweeter tone the ear never heard,
Touch not a rest so holy;
For God keeps him there, in the upper air,
Sleeping and waiting for the morning fair.
The clustering blooms of the flowerets wild,
Their fragrance sweet distilling,
Though ever himself kind nature's fond child,
Breaks not the tryst he's filling;
For God knows so swell the spot where he fell
That nothing but Heaven can unlock the spell.
The summer and autumn, they come and go,
Old winter oft-times lingers,
And spring rhododendrons after the snow
Lift up their beautiful fingers;
But changes may sweep over the land and the deep,
Yet nothing disturbs his satisfied sleep.
In Alma Mater's halls voices and tears
May speak the heart's deep yearning,
And oft to the eye Mount Mitchell appears
When fancy's lights are burning;
But the tolling bell and its mournful knell
Shall bring him no more, for he resteth well.
But a morn shall come, O glorious morn!
When the trumpet's shrill sounding
Shall reach every soul that ever was born,
And life anew be bounding;
And God in His might, from the mountain height,
Shall wake His servant to the wondrous sight.
-Robert Brank Vance (1828-1899)