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
To a Friend, on her Return from Europe
 
HOW smiled the land of France
Under thy blue eye’s glance,
    Light-hearted rover!
Old walls of chateaux gray,
Towers of an early day,        5
Which the Three Colors play
    Flauntingly over.
 
Now midst the brilliant train
Thronging the banks of Seine:
    Now midst the splendor        10
Of the wild Alpine range,
Waking with change on change
Thoughts in thy young heart strange,
    Lovely, and tender.
 
Vales, soft Elysian,        15
Like those in the vision
    Of Mirza, when, dreaming,
He saw the long hollow dell,
Touched by the prophet’s spell,
Into an ocean swell        20
    With its isles teeming.
 
Cliffs wrapped in snows of years,
Splintering with icy spears
    Autumn’s blue heaven:
Loose rock and frozen slide,        25
Hung on the mountain-side,
Waiting their hour to glide
    Downward, storm-driven!
 
Rhine-stream, by castle old,
Baron’s and robber’s hold,        30
    Peacefully flowing;
Sweeping through vineyards green,
Or where the cliffs are seen
O’er the broad wave between
    Grim shadows throwing.        35
 
Or, where St. Peter’s dome
Swells o’er eternal Rome,
    Vast, dim, and solemn;
Hymns ever chanting low,
Censers swung to and fro,        40
Sable stoles sweeping slow
    Cornice and column!
 
Oh, as from each and all
Will there not voices call
    Evermore back again?        45
In the mind’s gallery
Wilt thou not always see
Dim phantoms beckon thee
    O’er that old track again?
 
New forms thy presence haunt,        50
New voices softly chant,
    New faces greet thee!
Pilgrims from many a shrine
Hallowed by poet’s line,
At memory’s magic sign,        55
    Rising to meet thee.
 
And when such visions come
Unto thy olden home,
    Will they not waken
Deep thoughts of Him whose hand        60
Led thee o’er sea and land
Back to the household band
    Whence thou wast taken?
 
While, at the sunset time,
Swells the cathedral’s chime,        65
    Yet, in thy dreaming,
While to thy spirit’s eye
Yet the vast mountains lie
Piled in the Switzer’s sky,
    Icy and gleaming:        70
 
Prompter of silent prayer,
Be the wild picture there
    In the mind’s chamber,
And, through each coming day
Him who, as staff and stay,        75
Watched o’er thy wandering way,
    Freshly remember.
 
So, when the call shall be
Soon or late unto thee,
    As to all given,        80
Still may that picture live,
All its fair forms survive,
And to thy spirit give
    Gladness in Heaven!

  1841.
 
 
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