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H. Beam Piper 1904-1964 by Mary Ellen Riddell

His black hair shone,
His dark eyes glittered;
He was a striking figure
In tall, well-tailored black.
His skin was oddly white,
And when he smiled,
His teeth gleamed whiter still
Below his black mustache . . .
Like polished marble,
Smooth and hard
And coldly black and white,
I thought him when we met.

Later I would come to know
That the glitter in his eyes,
Like glint of sunlight on a restless sea,
Turned thought away
From dark unfathomed depths of loneliness;
To know, too,
That behind his sometimes mordant wit,
He was shyly generous and kind,
Sharing patiently his skill,
His knowledge of his craft,
With the least beginners
In our little group of writers.

He must have known vast loneliness --
The never-ending loneliness
Of a man born out of his time. With
understanding care
And well-researched precision,
He wrote of the past, the distant past,
Its soldiers, wars, and weapons . . .
The scope of his imagination inspired awe;
Out of it he wrote strange tales
Of other planets, future worlds,
Their peoples, times and customs,
And yet remained a stranger to his own.

We did not always understand him,
Too often impatient when he read us tales
Which our imaginations failed to grasp;
But still he met with us and helped us,
Seemed to like us in his odd and distant way.
Now, with regret, we wish we had been kinder,
Had thought of him enough to realize
He needed help from us, for yesterday,
With no sustaining faith in God,
Alone, withdrawn, mind faltering in despair,
He chose a weapon from the past he loved
And gave himself to Death
God Rest His Lonely Soul!


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