Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Poems Subjective and Reminiscent
My Dream
 
IN my dream, methought I trod,
Yesternight, a mountain road;
Narrow as Al Sirat’s span,
High as eagle’s flight, it ran.
 
Overhead, a roof of cloud        5
With its weight of thunder bowed;
Underneath, to left and right,
Blankness and abysmal night.
 
Here and there a wild-flower blushed,
Now and then a bird-song gushed;        10
Now and then, through rifts of shade,
Stars shone out, and sunbeams played.
 
But the goodly company,
Walking in that path with me,
One by one the brink o’erslid,        15
One by one the darkness hid.
 
Some with wailing and lament,
Some with cheerful courage went;
But, of all who smiled or mourned,
Never one to us returned.        20
 
Anxiously, with eye and ear,
Questioning that shadow drear,
Never hand in token stirred,
Never answering voice I heard!
 
Steeper, darker!—lo! I felt        25
From my feet the pathway melt.
Swallowed by the black despair,
And the hungry jaws of air,
 
Past the stony-throated caves,
Strangled by the wash of waves,        30
Past the splintered crags, I sank
On a green and flowery bank,—
 
Soft as fall of thistle-down,
Lightly as a cloud is blown,
Soothingly as childhood pressed        35
To the bosom of its rest.
 
Of the sharp-horned rocks instead,
Green the grassy meadows spread,
Bright with waters singing by
Trees that propped a golden sky.        40
 
Painless, trustful, sorrow-free,
Old lost faces welcomed me,
With whose sweetness of content
Still expectant hope was blent.
 
Waking while the dawning gray        45
Slowly brightened into day,
Pondering that vision fled,
Thus unto myself I said:—
 
“Steep and hung with clouds of strife
Is our narrow path of life;        50
And our death the dreaded fall
Through the dark, awaiting all.
 
“So, with painful steps we climb
Up the dizzy ways of time,
Ever in the shadow shed        55
By the forecast of our dread.
 
“Dread of mystery solved alone,
Of the untried and unknown;
Yet the end thereof may seem
Like the falling of my dream.        60
 
“And this heart-consuming care,
All our fears of here or there,
Change and absence, loss and death,
Prove but simple lack of faith.”
 
Thou, O Most Compassionate!        65
Who didst stoop to our estate,
Drinking of the cup we drain,
Treading in our path of pain,—
 
Through the doubt and mystery,
Grant to us thy steps to see,        70
And the grace to draw from thence
Larger hope and confidence.
 
Show thy vacant tomb, and let,
As of old, the angels sit,
Whispering, by its open door:        75
“Fear not! He hath gone before!”

  1855.
 
 
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