Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Personal Poems
To my Friend on the Death of his Sister
          Sophia Sturge, sister of Joseph Sturge, of Birmingham, the President of the British Complete Suffrage Association, died in the 6th month, 1845. She was the colleague, counsellor, and ever-ready helpmate of her brother in all his vast designs of beneficence. The Birmingham Pilot says of her: “Never, perhaps, were the active and passive virtues of the human character more harmoniously and beautifully blended than in this excellent woman.”

THINE is a grief, the depth of which another
      May never know;
Yet, o’er the waters, O my stricken brother!
      To thee I go.
I lean my heart unto thee, sadly folding        5
      Thy hand in mine;
With even the weakness of my soul upholding
      The strength of thine.
I never knew, like thee, the dear departed;
      I stood not by        10
When, in calm trust, the pure and tranquil-hearted
      Lay down to die.
And on thy ears my words of weak condoling
      Must vainly fall:
The funeral bell which in thy heart is tolling,        15
      Sounds over all!
I will not mock thee with the poor world’s common
      And heartless phrase,
Nor wrong the memory of a sainted woman
      With idle praise.        20
With silence only as their benediction,
      God’s angels come
Where, in the shadow of a great affliction,
      The soul sits dumb!
Yet, would I say what thy own heart approveth:        25
      Our Father’s will,
Calling to Him the dear one whom He loveth,
      Is mercy still.
Not upon thee or thine the solemn angel
      Hath evil wrought:        30
Her funeral anthem is a glad evangel,—
      The good die not!
God calls our loved ones, but we lose not wholly
      What He hath given;
They live on earth, in thought and deed, as truly        35
      As in His heaven.
And she is with thee; in thy path of trial
      She walketh yet;
Still with the baptism of thy self-denial
      Her locks are wet.        40
Up, then, my brother! Lo, the fields of harvest
      Lie white in view!
She lives and loves thee, and the God thou servest
      To both is true.
Thrust in thy sickle! England’s toilworn peasants        45
      Thy call abide;
And she thou mourn’st, a pure and holy presence,
      Shall glean beside!


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