Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership





Best Famous John Greenleaf Whittier Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous John Greenleaf Whittier poems. This is a select list of the best famous John Greenleaf Whittier poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous John Greenleaf Whittier poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of John Greenleaf Whittier poems.

Search for the best famous John Greenleaf Whittier poems, articles about John Greenleaf Whittier poems, poetry blogs, or anything else John Greenleaf Whittier poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also: Best Member Poems

Famous poems below this ad
by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Ichabod!

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 the light withdrawn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;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
     Befit his fall!

Oh! dumb be passion's stormy rage,
     When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
     Falls back in night.
Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark A bright soul driven, Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark, From hope and heaven! Let not the land, once proud of him, Insult him now, Nor brand with deeper shame his dim, Dishonored brow.
But let its humbled sons, instead, From sea to lake, A long lament, as for the dead, In sadness make.
Of all we loved and honored, nought Save power remains— A fallen angel's pride of thought, Still strong in chains.
All else is gone; from those great eyes The soul has fled: When faith is lost, when honor dies, The man is dead! Then, pay the reverence of old days To his dead fame; Walk backward, with averted gaze, And hide the shame!


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

The Frost Spirit

 He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes! 
You may trace his footsteps now 
On the naked woods and the blasted fields 
And the brown hill's withered brow.
He has smitten the leaves of the gray old trees Where their pleasant green came forth, And the winds, which follow wherever he goes, Have shaken them down to earth.
He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes! From the frozen Labrador, From the icy bridge of the northern seas, Which the white bear wanders o'er, Where the fisherman's sail is stiff with ice, And the luckless forms below In the sunless cold of the lingering night Into marble statues grow! He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes! On the rushing Northern blast, And the dark Norwegian pines have bowed As his fearful breath went past.
With an unscorched wing he has hurried on, Where the fires of Hecla glow On the darkly beautiful sky above And the ancient ice below.
He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes! And the quiet lake shall feel The torpid touch of his glazing breath, And ring to the skater's heel; And the streams which danced on the broken rocks, Or sang to the leaning grass, Shall bow again to their winter chain, And in mournful silence pass.
He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes! Let us meet him as we may, And turn with the light of the parlor-fire His evil power away; And gather closer the circle 'round, When the firelight dances high, And laugh at the shriek of the baffled Fiend As his sounding wing goes by!


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Vesta

 O CHRIST of God! whose life and death 
 Our own have reconciled, 
Most quietly, most tenderly 
 Take home thy star-named child! 

Thy grace is in her patient eyes, 
 Thy words are on her tongue; 
The very silence round her seems 
 As if the angels sung.
Her smile is as a listening child's Who hears its mother's call; The lilies of Thy perfect peace About her pillow fall.
She leans from out our clinging arms To rest herself in Thine; Alone to Thee, dear Lord, can we Our well-beloved resign.
O, less for her than for ourselves We bow our heads and pray; Her setting star, like Bethlehem's, To Thee shall point the way!


More great poems below...

by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

The Worship of Nature

 The harp at Nature's advent strung
Has never ceased to play; 
The song the stars of morning sung
Has never died away.
And prayer is made, and praise is given, By all things near and far; The ocean looketh up to heaven, And mirrors every star.
Its waves are kneeling on the strand, As kneels the human knee, Their white locks bowing to the sand, The priesthood of the sea! They pour their glittering treasures forth, Their gifts of pearl they bring, And all the listening hills of earth Take up the song they sing.
The green earth sends its incense up From many a mountain shrine; From folded leaf and dewy cup She pours her sacred wine.
The mists above the morning rills Rise white as wings of prayer; The altar-curtains of the hills Are sunset's purple air.
The winds with hymns of praise are loud, Or low with sobs of pain, -- The thunder-organ of the cloud, The dropping tears of rain.
With drooping head and branches crossed The twilight forest grieves, Or speaks with tongues of Pentecost From all its sunlit leaves.
The blue sky is the temple's arch, Its transept earth and air, The music of its starry march The chorus of a prayer.
So Nature keeps the reverent frame With which her years began, And all her signs and voices shame The prayerless heart of man.


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

What the Birds Said

 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?" "We saw the mortar's upturned mouth, The sickened camp, the blazing town! "Beneath the bivouac's starry lamps, We saw your march-worn children die; In shrouds of moss, in cypress swamps, We saw your dead uncoffined lie.
"We heard the starving prisoner's sighs And saw, from line and trench, your sons Follow our flight with home-sick eyes Beyond the battery's smoking guns.
" "And heard and saw ye only wrong And pain," I cried, "O wing-worn flocks?" "We heard," they sang, "the freedman's song, The crash of Slavery's broken locks! "We saw from new, uprising States The treason-nursing mischief spurned, As, crowding Freedom's ample gates, The long-estranged and lost returned.
"O'er dusky faces, seamed and old, And hands horn-hard with unpaid toil, With hope in every rustling fold, We saw your star-dropt flag uncoil.
"And struggling up through sounds accursed, A grateful murmur clomb the air; A whisper scarcely heard at first, It filled the listening heavens with prayer.
"And sweet and far, as from a star, Replied a voice which shall not cease, Till, drowning all the noise of war, It sings the blessed song of peace!" So to me, in a doubtful day Of chill and slowly greening spring, Low stooping from the cloudy gray, The wild-birds sang or seemed to sing.
They vanished in the misty air, The song went with them in their flight; But lo! they left the sunset fair, And in the evening there was light.


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Ichabod

 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;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!

Oh, dumb be passion's stormy rage,
When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
Falls back in night.
Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark A bright soul driven, Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark, From hope and heaven! Let not the land once proud of him Insult him now, Nor brand with deeper shame his dim, Dishonored brow.
But let its humbled sons, instead, From sea to lake, A long lament, as for the dead, In sadness make.
Of all we loved and honored, naught Save power remains; A fallen angel's pride of thought, Still strong in chains.
All else is gone; from those great eyes The soul has fled: When faith is lost, when honor dies, The man is dead! Then, pay the reverence of old days To his dead fame; Walk backward, with averted gaze, And hide the shame!


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Immortal love forever full

 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;
Love only knoweth whence it came,
And comprehendeth love.
Blow, winds of God, awake and blow The mists of earth away: Shine out, O Light divine, and show How wide and far we stray.
We may not climb the heavenly steeps To bring the Lord Christ down; In vain we search the lowest deeps, For Him no depths can drown.
But warm, sweet, tender, even yet, A present help is He; And faith still has its Olivet, And love its Galilee.
The healing of His seamless dress Is by our beds of pain; We touch Him in life’s throng and press, And we are whole again.
Through Him the first fond prayers are said Our lips of childhood frame, The last low whispers of our dead Are burdened with His Name.
O Lord and Master of us all, Whate’er our name or sign, We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call, We test our lives by Thine.
The letter fails, the systems fall, And every symbol wanes; The Spirit over brooding all, Eternal Love remains.


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Laus Deo

 It is done!
Clang of bell and roar of gun
Send the tidings up and down.
How the belfries rock and reel! How the great guns, peal on peal, Fling the joy from town to town! Ring, O bells! Every stroke exulting tells Of the burial hour of crime.
Loud and long, that all may hear, Ring for every listening ear Of Eternity and Time! Let us kneel: God's own voice is in that peal, And this spot is holy ground.
Lord, forgive us! What are we That our eyes this glory see, That our ears have heard this sound! For the Lord On the whirlwind is abroad; In the earthquake He has spoken; He has smitten with His thunder The iron walls asunder, And the gates of brass are broken! Loud and long Lift the old exulting song; Sing with Miriam by the sea, He has cast the mighty down; Horse and rider sink and drown; 'He hath triumphed gloriously!' Did we dare, In our agony of prayer, Ask for more than He has done? When was ever His right hand Over any time or land Stretched as now beneath the sun? How they pale, Ancient myth and song and tale, In this wonder of our days When the cruel rod of war Blossoms white with righteous law, And the wrath of man is praise! Blotted out! All within and all about Shall a fresher life begin; Freer breathe the universe As it rolls its heavy curse On the dead and buried sin! It is done! In the circuit of the sun Shall the sound thereof go forth.
It shall bid the sad rejoice, It shall give the dumb a voice, It shall belt with joy the earth! Ring and swing, Bells of joy! On morning's wing Sound the song of praise abroad! With a sound of broken chains Tell the nations that He reigns, Who alone is Lord and God!


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

A Word for the Hour

 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 Our faith and patience; wherefore should we leap On one hand into fratricidal fight, Or, on the other, yield eternal right, Frame lies of laws, and good and ill confound? What fear we? Safe on freedom's vantage ground Our feet are planted; let us there remain In unrevengeful calm, no means untried Which truth can sanction, no just claim denied, The sad spectators of a suicide! They break the lines of Union: shall we light The fires of hell to weld anew the chain On that red anvil where each blow is pain? Draw we not even now a freer breath, As from our shoulders falls a load of death Loathsome as that the Tuscan's victim bore When keen with life to a dead horror bound? Why take we up the accursed thing again? Pity, forgive, but urge them back no more Who, drunk with passion, flaunt disunion's rag With its vile reptile blazon.
Let us press The golden cluster on our brave old flag In closer union, and, if numbering less, Brighter shall shine the stars which still remain.


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

An Autograph

 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, And well my own may pass As from the strand or glass.
Wash on, O waves of time! Melt, noons, the frosty rime! Welcome the shadow vast, The silence that shall last! When I and all who know And love me vanish so, What harm to them or me Will the lost memory be? If any words of mine, Through right of life divine, Remain, what matters it Whose hand the message writ? Why should the "crowner's quest" Sit on my worst or best? Why should the showman claim The poor ghost of my name? Yet, as when dies a sound Its spectre lingers round, Haply my spent life will Leave some faint echo still.
A whisper giving breath Of praise or blame to death, Soothing or saddening such As loved the living much.
Therefore with yearnings vain And fond I still would fain A kindly judgment seek, A tender thought bespeak.
And, while my words are read, Let this at least be said: "Whate'er his life's defeatures, He loved his fellow-creatures.
"If, of the Law's stone table, To hold he scarce was able The first great precept fast, He kept for man the last.
"Through mortal lapse and dulness What lacks the Eternal Fulness, If still our weakness can Love Him in loving man? "Age brought him no despairing Of the world's future faring; In human nature still He found more good than ill.
"To all who dumbly suffered, His tongue and pen he offered; His life was not his own, Nor lived for self alone.
"Hater of din and riot He lived in days unquiet; And, lover of all beauty, Trod the hard ways of duty.
"He meant no wrong to any He sought the good of many, Yet knew both sin and folly, -- May God forgive him wholly!"


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

By Their Works

 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.
When he, who, sad and weary, longing sore For love's sweet service sought the sisters' door One saw the heavenly, one the human guest But who shall say which loved the master best?


by John Greenleaf Whittier | |

Disarmament

 "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
Down which a groaning diapason runs
From tortured brothers, husbands, lovers, sons
Of desolate women in their far-off homes
Waiting to hear the step that never comes!
O men and brothers! let that voice be heard.
War fails, try peace; put up the useless sword! Fear not the end.
There is a story told In Eastern tents, when autumn nights grow cold, And round the fire the Mongol shepherds sit With grave responses listening unto it: Once, on the errands of his mercy bent, Buddha, the holy and benevolent, Met a fell monster, huge and fierce of look, Whose awful voice the hills and forests shook, "O son of peace!" the giant cried, "thy fate Is sealed at last, and love shall yield to hate.
" The unarmed Buddha looking, with no trace Of fear and anger, in the monster's face, In pity said, "Poor fiend, even thee I love.
" Lo! as he spake the sky-tall terror sank To hand-breadth size; the huge abhorrence shrank Into the form and fashion of a dove And where the thunder of its rage was heard, Circling above him sweetly sang the bird: "Hate hath no harm for love," so ran the song, "And peace unweaponed conquers every wrong!"