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.
 
Personal Poems
Lines on the Death of S. Oliver Torrey
 
Secretary of the Boston Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Society

GONE before us, O our brother,
  To the spirit-land!
Vainly look we for another
  In thy place to stand.
Who shall offer youth and beauty        5
  On the wasting shrine
Of a stern and lofty duty,
  With a faith like thine?
 
Oh, thy gentle smile of greeting
  Who again shall see?        10
Who amidst the solemn meeting
  Gaze again on thee?
Who when peril gathers o’er us,
  Wear so calm a brow?
Who, with evil men before us,        15
  So serene as thou?
 
Early hath the spoiler found thee,
  Brother of our love!
Autumn’s faded earth around thee,
  And its storms above!        20
Evermore that turf lie lightly,
  And, with future showers,
O’er thy slumbers fresh and brightly
  Blow the summer flowers!
 
In the locks thy forehead gracing,        25
  Not a silvery streak;
Nor a line of sorrow’s tracing
  On thy fair young cheek;
Eyes of light and lips of roses,
  Such as Hylas wore,—        30
Over all that curtain closes,
  Which shall rise no more!
 
Will the vigil Love is keeping
  Round that grave of thine,
Mournfully, like Jazer weeping        35
  Over Sibmah’s vine; 1
Will the pleasant memories, swelling
  Gentle hearts, of thee,
In the spirit’s distant dwelling
  All unheeded be?        40
 
If the spirit ever gazes,
  From its journeyings, back;
If the immortal ever traces
  O’er its mortal track;
Wilt thou not, O brother, meet us        45
  Sometimes on our way,
And, in hours of sadness, greet us
  As a spirit may?
 
Peace be with thee, O our brother,
  In the spirit-land!        50
Vainly look we for another
  In thy place to stand.
Unto Truth and Freedom giving
  All thy early powers,
Be thy virtues with the living,        55
  And thy spirit ours!

  1837.
 
Note 1. “O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer!”—Jeremiah xlviii. 32. [back]
 
 
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