Ah! Washington, thou once didst guide the helm
And point each danger to our infant realm;
Didst show the gulf where factious tempests sweep,
And the big thunders frolic o'er the deep;
Through the red wave didst lead our bark, nor stood,
Like ancient Moses, the other side the flood.
But thou art gone,—yes, gone, and we deplore
The man, the Washington, we knew before.
But, when thy spirit mounted to the sky,
And scarce beneath thee left a tearless eye,
Tell what Elisha then thy mantle caught,
Warmed with thy virtue, with thy wisdom fraught.
Say, was it Adams? was it he who bare
His country's toils, nor knew a separate care,
Whose bosom heaved indignant as he saw
Columbia groan beneath oppression's law,
Who stood and spurned corruption at his feet,
Firm as "the rock on which the storm shall beat?"
Or was it he whose votaries now disclaim
Thy godlike deeds and sully all thy fame?
Spirit of Washington, oh! grant reply,
And let thy country know thee from the sky.
Break through the clouds, and be thine accents heard,
Accents that oft 'mid war's rude onset cheered.
Thy voice shall hush again our mad alarms,
Lull monster faction with thy potent charms.
And grant to whosoe'er ascends thy seat,
Worth half like thine, and virtues half as great.
Poem by Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
Stained glass window from Capitol Prayer Room
Compliments of George Washington Inn and Estate