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John Greenleaf Whittier

Poems by John Greenleaf Whittier


found 483 works
Still sits the school-house by the road,
A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are creeping.
Within, the master's desk is seen,
Deep-scarred by raps official...
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep...
Maud Muller on a summer's day
Raked the meadow sweet with hay.
Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth
Of simple beauty and rustic health.
Singing, she wrought, and her merry gleee
The mock-bird echoed from his tree...
My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate...
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill...
How strange to greet, this frosty morn,
In graceful counterfeit of flower,
These children of the meadows, born
Of sunshine and of showers!
How well the conscious wood retains
The pictures of its flower-sown home...
'T is the noon of the spring-time, yet never a bird
In the wind-shaken elm or the maple is heard;
For green meadow-grasses wide levels of snow,
And blowing of drifts where the crocus should blow;
Where wind-flower and violet, amber and white,
On south-sloping brooksides should smile in the light...
The firmament breaks up. In black eclipse
Light after light goes out. One evil star,
Luridly glaring through the smoke of war,
As in the dream of the Apocalypse,
Drags others down. Let us not weakly weep
Nor rashly threaten. Give us grace to keep...
The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy...
Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.
There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall...
Call him not heretic whose works attest
His faith in goodness by no creed confessed.
Whatever in love's name is truly done
To free the bound and lift the fallen one
Is done to Christ. Whoso in deed and word
Is not against Him labours for our Lord...
Before my drift-wood fire I sit,
And see, with every waif I burn,
Old dreams and fancies coloring it,
And folly's unlaid ghosts return.
O ships of mine, whose swift keels cleft
The enchanted sea on which they sailed...
Bland as the morning breath of June
The southwest breezes play;
And, through its haze, the winter noon
Seems warm as summer's day.
The snow-plumed Angel of the North
Has dropped his icy spear...
To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author:
"As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits,which be Angels of Light, are augmented not only by the Divine lightof the Sun, but also by our common Wood Fire: and as the CelestialFire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth thesame." -- Cor. Agrippa, Occult Philosophy,
Book I.ch. v.
"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields...
Outbound, your bark awaits you. Were I one
Whose prayer availeth much, my wish should be
Your favoring trad-wind and consenting sea.
By sail or steed was never love outrun,
And, here or there, love follows her in whom
All graces and sweet charities unite...
Immortal love, forever full,
Forever flowing free,
Forever shared, forever whole,
A never ebbing sea!
Our outward lips confess the name
All other names above...
So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
Forevermore!
Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all...
I write my name as one,
On sands by waves o'errun
Or winter's frosted pane,
Traces a record vain.
Oblivion's blankness claims
Wiser and better names...
"Put up the sword!" The voice of Christ once more
Speaks, in the pauses of the cannon's roar,
O'er fields of corn by fiery sickles reaped
And left dry ashes; over trenches heaped
With nameless dead; o'er cities starving slow
Under a rain of fire; through wards of woe...
The birds against the April wind
Flew northward, singing as they flew;
They sang, "The land we leave behind
Has swords for corn-blades, blood for dew."
"O wild-birds, flying from the South,
What saw and heard ye, gazing down...
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