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 Birthday
 
BENEATH the moonlight and the snow
  Lies dead my latest year;
The winter winds are wailing low
  Its dirges in my ear.
 
I grieve not with the moaning wind        5
  As if a loss befell;
Before me, even as behind,
  God is, and all is well!
 
His light shines on me from above,
  His low voice speaks within,—        10
The patience of immortal love
  Outwearying mortal sin.
 
Not mindless of the growing years
  Of care and loss and pain,
My eyes are wet with thankful tears        15
  For blessings which remain.
 
If dim the gold of life has grown,
  I will not count it dross,
Nor turn from treasures still my own
  To sigh for lack and loss.        20
 
The years no charm from Nature take;
  As sweet her voices call,
As beautiful her mornings break,
  As fair her evenings fall.
 
Love watches o’er my quiet ways,        25
  Kind voices speak my name,
And lips that find it hard to praise
  Are slow, at least, to blame.
 
How softly ebb the tides of will!
  How fields, once lost or won,        30
Now lie behind me green and still
  Beneath a level sun!
 
How hushed the hiss of party hate,
  The clamor of the throng!
How old, harsh voices of debate        35
  Flow into rhythmic song!
 
Methinks the spirit’s temper grows
  Too soft in this still air;
Somewhat the restful heart foregoes
  Of needed watch and prayer.        40
 
The bark by tempest vainly tossed
  May founder in the calm,
And he who braved the polar frost
  Faint by the isles of balm.
 
Better than self-indulgent years        45
  The outflung heart of youth,
Than pleasant songs in idle ears
  The tumult of the truth.
 
Rest for the weary hands is good,
  And love for hearts that pine,        50
But let the manly habitude
  Of upright souls be mine.
 
Let winds that blow from heaven refresh,
  Dear Lord, the languid air;
And let the weakness of the flesh        55
  Thy strength of spirit share.
 
And, if the eye must fail of light,
  The ear forget to hear,
Make clearer still the spirit’s sight,
  More fine the inward ear!        60
 
Be near me in mine hours of need
  To soothe, or cheer, or warn,
And down these slopes of sunset lead
  As up the hills of morn!

  1871.
 
 
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