John Greenleaf Whittier (18071892). The Poetical Works in Four Volumes. 1892.
Narrative and Legendary Poems
The Vaudois Teacher
This poem was suggested by the account given of the manner in which the Waldenses disseminated their principles among the Catholic gentry. They gained access to the house through their occupation as peddlers of silks, jewels, and trinkets. Having disposed of some of their goods, it is said by a writer who quotes the inquisitor Rainerus Sacco, they cautiously intimated that they had commodities far more valuable than these, inestimable jewels, which they would show if they could be protected from the clergy. They would then give their purchasers a Bible or Testament; and thereby many were deluded into heresy.
The poem, under the title Le Colporteur Vaudois, was translated into French by Professor G. de Felice, of Montauban, and further naturalized by Professor Alexandre Rodolphe Vinet, who quoted it in his lectures on French literature, afterwards published. It became familiar in this form to the Waldenses, who adopted it as a household poem. An American clergyman, J. C. Fletcher, frequently heard it when he was a student, about the year 1850, in the theological seminary at Geneva, Switzerland, but the authorship of the poem was unknown to those who used it. Twenty-five years later, Mr. Fletcher, learning the name of the author, wrote to the moderator of the Waldensian synod at La Tour, giving the information. At the banquet which closed the meeting of the synod, the moderator announced the fact, and was instructed in the name of the Waldensian church to write to me a letter of thanks. My letter, written in reply, was translated into Italian and printed throughout Italy.
O LADY fair, these silks of mine are beautiful and rare,
The richest web of the Indian loom, which beautys queen might wear;
And my pearls are pure as thy own fair neck, with whose radiant light they vie;
I have brought them with me a weary way,will my gentle lady buy?
The lady smiled on the worn old man through the dark and clustering curls