Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
New England: Hampton, N. H.
The Changeling
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

FOR the fairest maid in Hampton
  They needed not to search,
Who saw young Anna Favor
  Come walking into church,—
Or bringing from the meadows,        5
  At set of harvest-day,
The frolic of the blackbirds,
  The sweetness of the hay.
Now the weariest of all mothers,
  The saddest two-years bride,        10
She scowls in the face of her husband,
  And spurns her child aside.
“Rake out the red coals, goodman,—
  For there the child shall lie,
Till the black witch comes to fetch her,        15
  And both up chimney fly.
“It ’s never my own little daughter,
  It ’s never my own,” she said;
“The witches have stolen my Anna,
  And left me an imp instead.
*        *        *        *        *
“She ’ll come when she hears it crying,
  In the shape of an owl or bat,
And she ’ll bring us our darling Anna
  In place of her screeching brat.”
Then the goodman, Ezra Dalton,        25
  Laid his hand upon her head:
“Thy sorrow is great, O woman!
  I sorrow with thee,” he said.
“The paths to trouble are many,
  And never but one sure way        30
Leads out to the light beyond it:
  My poor wife, let us pray.”
Then he said to the great All-Father,
  “Thy daughter is weak and blind;
Let her sight come back, and clothe her        35
  Once more in her right mind.”
*        *        *        *        *
Then into the face of its mother
  The baby looked up and smiled;
And the cloud of her soul was lifted,
  And she knew her little child.        40
A beam of the slant west sunshine
  Made the wan face almost fair,
Lit the blue eyes’ patient wonder,
  And the rings of pale gold hair.
She kissed it on lip and forehead,        45
  She kissed it on cheek and chin,
And she bared her snow-white bosom
  To the lips so pale and thin.
Oh, fair on her bridal morning
  Was the maid who blushed and smiled,        50
But fairer to Ezra Dalton
  Looked the mother of his child.
With more than a lover’s fondness
  He stooped to her worn young face,
And the nursing child and the mother        55
  He folded in one embrace.
“Blessed be God!” he murmured.
  “Blessed be God!” she said;
“For I see, who once was blinded,—
  I live, who once was dead.        60
“Now mount and ride, my goodman,
  As thou lovest thy own soul!
Woe ’s me, if my wicked fancies
  Be the death of Goody Cole!”
His horse he saddled and bridled,        65
  And into the night rode he,—
Now through the great black woodland
  Now by the white-beached sea.
He rode through the silent clearings,
  He came to the ferry wide,        70
And thrice he called to the boatman
  Asleep on the other side.
He set his horse to the river,
  He swam to Newbury town,
And he called up Justice Sewall        75
  In his nightcap and his gown.
And the grave and worshipful justice
  (Upon whose soul be peace!)
Set his name to the jailer’s warrant
  For Goodwife Cole’s release.        80
Then through the night the hoof-beats
  Went sounding like a flail;
And Goody Cole at cockcrow
  Came forth from Ipswich jail.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.