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Posts Tagged ‘John Greenleaf Whittier’

We live by faith; but faith is not the slave
Of text and legend. Reason’s voice and God’s;
Nature’s and Duty’s, never are at odds.
What asks our Father of His children, save
Justice, mercy and humility,
A reasonable service of good deeds,
Pure living, tenderness to human needs,
Reverence and trust, and prayer for light to see
The Master’s footprints in our daily ways.

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I would add this:  Biblical faith is not a blind leap.
It is not without reason or against reason.  It is
based upon evidence and many verses show this
to be true.  I believe in God, the Bible as His word,
and Jesus as the Christ risen from the dead because
there is abundant evidence for each.  DL

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The Barefoot Boy

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;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, –
I was once a barefoot boy!

Prince thou art, – the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye, –
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, –
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

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photo by Sandernl via dreamstime
http://www.dreamstime.com/playing-at-the-beach-imagefree238192

 

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We search the world for truth. We cull
The good, the true, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
And all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read.


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photo by Adrian van Leen at http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mJglONE/Bible+-+black+spine

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In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue
Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,
Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung,
Nor dim light falling through the pictured pane!
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophet’s ear;
Read in my heart a still diviner law
Than Israel’s leader on his tables saw!
There, let me strive with each besetting sin,
Recall my wandering fancies, and restrain
The sore disquiet of a restless brain;
And, as the path of duty is made plain,
May grace be given that I may walk therein,
Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,
With backward glances and reluctant tread,
Making a merit of his coward dread,
But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown,
Walking as one to pleasant service led;
Doing God’s will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine, but in his strength alone!

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….The Kansas Emigrants

We cross the prairie as of old
The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
To make the West, as they the East,
The homestead of the free. 

We go to rear a wall of men
On Freedom’s southern line,
And plant beside the cotton tree
The rugged Northern pine! 

We’re flowing from our native hills
As our free rivers flow:
The blessing of our Motherland
Is on us as we go. 

We go to plant her common schools
On distant prairie swells,
And give the Sabbaths of the wild
The music of her bells. 

Upbearing, like the Ark of Old,
The Bible in our van,
We go to test the truth of God
Against the fraud of man. 

No pause, nor rest, save where the streams
That feed the Kansas run,
Save where our Pilgrim gonfalon
Shall flout the setting sun! 

We’ll tread the prairie as of old
Our fathers sailed the sea,
And make the West, as they the East,
The homestead of the free!

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gonfalon – a flag, a banner

 

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……..The Three Silences Of Molinos
…………..(To John Greenleaf Whittier)

Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
The second of desire, the third of thought;
This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught
With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.
These Silences, commingling each with each,
Made up the perfect Silence that he sought
And prayed for, and wherein at times he caught
Mysterious sounds from realms beyond our reach.
O thou, whose daily life anticipates
The life to come, and in whose thought and word
The spiritual world preponderates,
Hermit of Amesbury! thou too has heard
Voices and melodies from beyond the gates,
And speakest only when thy soul is stirred!

 

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………………….Telling The Bees

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;
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall. 

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o’errun,
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink. 

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago. 

There’s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm. 

I mind me how with a lover’s care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat. 

Since we parted, a month had passed, –
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near. 

I can see it all now, – the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves. 

Just the same as a month before, –
The house and the trees,
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door, –
Nothing changed but the hives of bees. 

Before them, under the garden wall,
Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black. 

Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on a journey we all must go! 

Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away.” 

But her dog whines low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in. 

And the song she was singing ever since
In my ear sounds on: –
“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”

 

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Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our fev’rish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper rev’rence, praise. 

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian Sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee. 

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by loved. 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace. 

Breathe thru the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak thru the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm!

 

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……Skipper Ireson’s Ride

Of all the rides since the birth of time,
Told in story or sung in rhyme, –
On Apuleius’s Golden Ass,
Or one-eyed Calender’s horse of brass,
Witch astride of a human back,
Islam’s prophet on Al-Borak, –
The strangest ride that ever was sped
Was Ireson’s, out from Marblehead!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
…..By the women of Marblehead!

Body of turkey, head of owl,
Wings a-droop liked a rained-on fowl,
Feathered and ruffled in every part,
Skipper Ireson stood in the cart.
Scores of women, old and young,
Strong of muscle, and glib of tongue,
Pushed and pulled up the rocky lane,
Shouting and singing the shrill refrain:
“Here’s Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr’d an’ futherr’d an’ corr’d in a corrt
…..By the women o’ Morble’ead!”

Wrinkled scolds with hands on hips,
Girls in bloom of cheek and lips,
Wild-eyed, free-limbed, such as chase
Bacchus round some antique vase,
Brief of skirt, with ankles bare,
Loose of kerchief and loose of hair,
With conch-shells blowing and fish-horns’ twang.
Over and over the Maenads sang:
“Here’s Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr’d an’ futherr’d an’ corr’d in a corrt
…..By the women o’ Morble’ead!”

Small pity for him! – He sailed away
From a leaking ship in Chaleur Bay, –
Sailed away from a sinking wreck,
With his own town’s people on her deck!
“Lay by! lay by!” they called to him.
Back he answered, “Sink or swim!
Brag of your catch of fish again!”
And off he sailed through the fog and rain!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
…..By the women of Marblehead!

Fathoms deep in dark Chaleur
That wreck shall lie forevermore.
Mother and sister, wife and maid,
Over the moaning and rainy sea, –
Looked for the coming that might not be!
What did the winds and sea-birds say
Of the cruel captain who sailed away – ?
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
…..By the women of Marblehead!

Through the street, on either side,
Up flew windows, doors swung wide;
Sharp-tongued spinsters, old wives gray,
Treble lent the fish-horn’s bray.
Sea-worn grandsires, cripple-bound,
Hulks of old sailors run aground,
Shook head, and fist, and hat, and cane,
And cracked with curses the hoarse refrain:
“Here’s Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr’d an’ futherr’d and’ corr’d in a corrt
…..By the women of Morble’ead!”

Sweetly along the Salem road
Bloom of orchard and lilac showed.
Little the wicked skipper knew
Of the fields so green and the sky so blew.
Riding there in his sorry trim,
Like an Indian idol glum and grim,
Scarcely he seemed the sound to hear
Of voices shouting, far and near:
“Here’s Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr’d an’ futherr’d an’ corr’d in a corrt
…..By the women o’ Morble’ead!”

“Hear me, neighbors!” at last he cried, –
“What to me is this noisy ride?
What is the shame that clothes the skin
To the nameless horror that lives within?
Waking or sleeping, I see a wreck,
And hear a cry from a reeling deck!
Hate me and curse me, – I only dread
The hand of God and the face of the dead!”
Said old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
…..By the women of Marblehead!

Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea
Said, “God has touched him! why should we?”
Said an old wife mourning her only son,
“Cut the rogue’s tether and let him run!”
So with soft relentings, and rude excuse,
Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose,
And gave him a cloak to hide him in,
And left him alone with his shame and sin.
Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
…..By the women of Marblehead!

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           Barbara Frietchie

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 the orchards sweep,
Apple and peach-tree fruited deep, 

Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall; 

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town. 

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars, 

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one. 

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten; 

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down; 

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead. 

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight. 

“Halt!” – the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” – out blazed the rifle blast. 

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash. 

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf. 

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will. 

“Shoot, if you must, this old grey head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came; 

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word; 

“Who touches a hair of yon grey head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said. 

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet: 

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host. 

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well; 

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night. 

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the rebel rides on his raids no more. 

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier. 

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of freedom and union, wave! 

Peace, and order, and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law; 

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

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