When You Get Home, Remember Me

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Lieutenant De Long, commanding the Jeannette Artic
Expedition, having seen his vessel crushed by the ice,
undertook a perilous journey through the ice and snow
toward the coast of Siberia. With a part of his command
he finally reached the wilderness near the mouth of the
River Lena. Disabled by sickness, hunger and cold, the
little band was compelled to halt, while two of their
number went forward. When the pathetic parting was over,
and after the two seaman had begun their battle with the
snowdrifts, they heard a call, and on turning, recognized
the voice of one of their officers feebly shouting: "When
you get to New York, remember me!" From that group of
brave men, these were the last words that ever reached
human ears.

Starving beside the frozen Lena!
Perishing in a snow blockade!
From a lone group of shipwrecked seamen
Two are sent forth to seek for aid.
'Tis a sad, a solemn parting;
Life or death! who can foresee?
Hark! on the wind floats this last message:
"When you get home, remember me!"

Gallant and brave! together clinging,
True to the last! with but this plea;
Still in our ears its words are ringing,
"When you get home, remember me!"

Ready to sink, yet persevering,
Southward and helpward toil the twain;
Close in the rear an Artic winter
Binding the land with icy chain.
Weary wait the suff'ring comrades;
Help they ask on bended knee;
But to their friends come these words only:
"When you get home, remember me!"

Succor at last! the twain find helpers;
Shrieks the fierce gale, "Too late! too late!"
Valiant De Long and brave companions,
Manfully, calmly meet their fate.
One by one, they lie down dying;
All obey that stern decree--
Last on their lips this plaintive whisper:
"When you get home, remember me!"

Starving beside the frozen Lena!
Perishing in a snow blockade!
Had we but known their need, what thousands
Would have rejoiced to render aid!
There was want, while here abundance;
Naught had they, while plenty we.
Shall we not heed their last entreaty:
"When you get home, remember me!"

© Henry Clay Work