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
Overruled
 
THE THREADS our hands in blindness spin
No self-determined plan weaves in;
The shuttle of the unseen powers
Works out a pattern not as ours.
 
Ah! small the choice of him who sings        5
What sound shall leave the smitten strings;
Fate holds and guides the hand of art;
The singer’s is the servant’s part.
 
The wind-harp chooses not the tone
That through its trembling threads is blown;        10
The patient organ cannot guess
What hand its passive keys shall press.
 
Through wish, resolve, and act, our will
Is moved by undreamed forces still;
And no man measures in advance        15
His strength with untried circumstance.
 
As streams take hue from shade and sun,
As runs the life the song must run;
But, glad or sad, to His good end
God grant the varying notes may tend!

  1877.
        20
 
 
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