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.
 
Religious Poems
The Call of the Christian
 
NOT always as the whirlwind’s rush
  On Horeb’s mount of fear,
Not always as the burning bush
  To Midian’s shepherd seer,
Nor as the awful voice which came        5
  To Israel’s prophet bards,
Nor as the tongues of cloven flame,
  Nor gift of fearful words,—
 
Not always thus, with outward sign
  Of fire or voice from Heaven,        10
The message of a truth divine,
  The call of God is given!
Awaking in the human heart
  Love for the true and right,—
Zeal for the Christian’s better part,        15
  Strength for the Christian’s fight.
 
Nor unto manhood’s heart alone
  The holy influence steals:
Warm with a rapture not its own,
  The heart of woman feels!        20
As she who by Samaria’s wall
  The Saviour’s errand sought,—
As those who with the fervent Paul
  And meek Aquila wrought:
 
Or those meek ones whose martyrdom        25
  Rome’s gathered grandeur saw:
Or those who in their Alpine home
  Braved the Crusader’s war,
When the green Vaudois, trembling, heard,
  Through all its vales of death,        30
The martyr’s song of triumph poured
  From woman’s failing breath.
 
And gently, by a thousand things
  Which o’er our spirits pass,
Like breezes o’er the harp’s fine strings,        35
  Or vapors o’er a glass,
Leaving their token strange and new
  Of music or of shade,
The summons to the right and true
  And merciful is made.        40
 
Oh, then, if gleams of truth and light
  Flash o’er thy waiting mind,
Unfolding to thy mental sight
  The wants of human-kind;
If, brooding over human grief,        45
  The earnest wish is known
To soothe and gladden with relief
  An anguish not thine own;
 
Though heralded with naught of fear,
  Or outward sign or show;        50
Though only to the inward ear
  It whispers soft and low;
Though dropping, as the manna fell,
  Unseen, yet from above,
Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,—        55
  Thy Father’s call of love!

  1833.
 
 
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