Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Poems Subjective and Reminiscent
My Thanks
Accompanying Manuscripts Presented to a Friend

’T IS said that in the Holy Land
  The angels of the place have blessed
The pilgrim’s bed of desert sand,
  Like Jacob’s stone of rest.
That down the hush of Syrian skies        5
  Some sweet-voiced saint at twilight sings
The song whose holy symphonies
  Are beat by unseen wings;
Till starting from his sandy bed,
  The wayworn wanderer looks to see        10
The halo of an angel’s head
  Shine through the tamarisk-tree.
So through the shadows of my way
  Thy smile hath fallen soft and clear,
So at the weary close of day        15
  Hath seemed thy voice of cheer.
That pilgrim pressing to his goal
  May pause not for the vision’s sake,
Yet all fair things within his soul
  The thought of it shall wake:        20
The graceful palm-tree by the well,
  Seen on the far horizon’s rim;
The dark eyes of the fleet gazelle,
  Bent timidly on him;
Each pictured saint, whose golden hair        25
  Streams sunlike through the convent’s gloom;
Pale shrines of martyrs young and fair,
  And loving Mary’s tomb;
And thus each tint or shade which falls,
  From sunset cloud or waving tree,        30
Along my pilgrim path, recalls
  The pleasant thought of thee.
Of one in sun and shade the same,
  In weal and woe my steady friend,
Whatever by that holy name        35
  The angels comprehend.
Not blind to faults and follies, thou
  Hast never failed the good to see,
Nor judged by one unseemly bough
  The upward-struggling tree.        40
These light leaves at thy feet I lay,—
  Poor common thoughts on common things,
Which time is shaking, day by day,
  Like feathers from his wings;
Chance shootings from a frail life-tree,        45
  To nurturing care but little known,
Their good was partly learned of thee,
  Their folly is my own.
That tree still clasps the kindly mould,
  Its leaves still drink the twilight dew,        50
And weaving its pale green with gold,
  Still shines the sunlight through.
There still the morning zephyrs play,
  And there at times the spring bird sings,
And mossy trunk and fading spray        55
  Are flowered with glossy wings.
Yet, even in genial sun and rain,
  Root, branch, and leaflet fail and fade;
The wanderer on its lonely plain
  Erelong shall miss its shade.        60
O friend beloved, whose curious skill
  Keeps bright the last year’s leaves and flowers,
With warm, glad, summer thoughts to fill
  The cold, dark, winter hours!
Pressed on thy heart, the leaves I bring        65
  May well defy the wintry cold,
Until, in Heaven’s eternal spring,
  Life’s fairer ones unfold.


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