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
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THE TREE of Faith its bare, dry boughs must shed
  That nearer heaven the living ones may climb;
  The false must fail, though from our shores of time
The old lament be heard, “Great Pan is dead!”
That wail is Error’s, from his high place hurled;        5
  This sharp recoil is Evil undertrod;
  Our time’s unrest, an angel sent of God
Troubling with life the waters of the world.
Even as they list the winds of the Spirit blow
  To turn or break our century-rusted vanes;        10
  Sands shift and waste; the rock alone remains
Where, led of Heaven, the strong tides come and go,
And storm-clouds, rent by thunderbolt and wind,
Leave, free of mist, the permanent stars behind.
 
Therefore I trust, although to outward sense        15
  Both true and false seem shaken; I will hold
  With newer light my reverence for the old,
And calmly wait the births of Providence.
No gain is lost; the clear-eyed saints look down
  Untroubled on the wreck of schemes and creeds;        20
  Love yet remains, its rosary of good deeds
Counting in task-field and o’erpeopled town;
Truth has charmed life; the Inward Word survives,
  And, day by day, its revelation brings;
  Faith, hope, and charity, whatsoever things        25
Which cannot be shaken, stand. Still holy lives
Reveal the Christ of whom the letter told,
And the new gospel verifies the old.

  1885.
 
 
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