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
Daniel Wheeler
 
          Daniel Wheeler, a minister of the Society of Friends, who had labored in the cause of his Divine Master in Great Britain, Russia, and the islands of the Pacific, died in New York in the spring of 1840, while on a religious visit to this country.

      O DEARLY loved!
And worthy of our love! No more
Thy aged form shall rise before
The hushed and waiting worshipper,
In meek obedience utterance giving        5
To words of truth, so fresh and living,
That, even to the inward sense,
They bore unquestioned evidence
Of an anointed Messenger!
Or, bowing down thy silver hair        10
In reverent awfulness of prayer,
  The world, its time and sense, shut out
The brightness of Faith’s holy trance
Gathered upon thy countenance,
  As if each lingering cloud of doubt,        15
The cold, dark shadows resting here
In Time’s unluminous atmosphere,
  Were lifted by an angel’s hand,
And through them on thy spiritual eye
Shone down the blessedness on high,        20
  The glory of the Better Land!
 
      The oak has fallen!
While, meet for no good work, the vine
May yet its worthless branches twine,
Who knoweth not that with thee fell        25
A great man in our Israel?
Fallen, while thy loins were girded still,
  Thy feet with Zion’s dews still wet,
  And in thy hand retaining yet
The pilgrim’s staff and scallop-shell!        30
Unharmed and safe, where, wild and free,
  Across the Neva’s cold morass
The breezes from the Frozen Sea
  With winter’s arrowy keenness pass;
Or where the unwarning tropic gale        35
Smote to the waves thy tattered sail,
Or where the noon-hour’s fervid heat
Against Tahiti’s mountains beat;
  The same mysterious Hand which gave
  Deliverance upon land and wave,        40
Tempered for thee the blasts which blew
  Ladaga’s frozen surface o’er,
And blessed for thee the baleful dew
  Of evening upon Eimeo’s shore,
Beneath this sunny heaven of ours,        45
Midst our soft airs and opening flowers
  Hath given thee a grave!
 
      His will be done,
Who seeth not as man, whose way
  Is not as ours! ’T is well with thee!        50
Nor anxious doubt nor dark dismay
Disquieted thy closing day,
But, evermore, thy soul could say,
  “My Father careth still for me!”
Called from thy hearth and home,—from her,        55
  The last bud on thy household tree,
The last dear one to minister
  In duty and in love to thee,
From all which nature holdeth dear,
  Feeble with years and worn with pain,        60
  To seek our distant land again,
Bound in the spirit, yet unknowing
  The things which should befall thee here,
  Whether for labor or for death,
In childlike trust serenely going        65
  To that last trial of thy faith!
 
      Oh, far away,
  Where never shines our Northern star
  On that dark waste which Balboa saw
From Darien’s mountains stretching far,        70
So strange, heaven-broad, and lone, that there,
With forehead to its damp wind bare,
  He bent his mailëd knee in awe;
In many an isle whose coral feet
The surges of that ocean beat,        75
In thy palm shadows, Oahu,
  And Honolulu’s silver bay,
Amidst Owyhee’s hills of blue,
  And taro-plains of Tooboonai,
Are gentle hearts, which long shall be        80
Sad as our own at thought of thee,
Worn sowers of Truth’s holy seed,
Whose souls in weariness and need
  Were strengthened and refreshed by thine.
For blessëd by our Father’s hand        85
  Was thy deep love and tender care,
  Thy ministry and fervent prayer,—
Grateful as Eshcol’s clustered vine
To Israel in a weary land!
 
      And they who drew        90
By thousands round thee, in the hour
  Of prayerful waiting, hushed and deep,
  That He who bade the islands keep
Silence before Him, might renew
  Their strength with His unslumbering power,        95
They too shall mourn that thou art gone,
  That nevermore thy aged lip
Shall soothe the weak, the erring warn,
Of those who first, rejoicing, heard
Through thee the Gospel’s glorious word,—        100
  Seals of thy true apostleship.
And, if the brightest diadem,
  Whose gems of glory purely burn
  Around the ransomed ones in bliss,
Be evermore reserved for them        105
  Who here, through toil and sorrow, turn
  Many to righteousness,
May we not think of thee as wearing
That star-like crown of light, and bearing,
Amidst Heaven’s white and blissful band,        110
Th’ unfading palm-branch in thy hand;
And joining with a seraph’s tongue
In that new song the elders sung,
Ascribing to its blessed Giver
Thanksgiving, love, and praise forever!        115
 
      Farewell!
And though the ways of Zion mourn
When her strong ones are called away,
Who like thyself have calmly borne
The heat and burden of the day,        120
Yet He who slumbereth not nor sleepeth
His ancient watch around us keepeth;
Still, sent from His creating hand,
New witnesses for Truth shall stand,
New instruments to sound abroad        125
The Gospel of a risen Lord;
  To gather to the fold once more
The desolate and gone astray,
The scattered of a cloudy day,
  And Zion’s broken walls restore;        130
And, through the travail and the toil
  Of true obedience, minister
Beauty for ashes, and the oil
  Of joy for mourning, unto her!
So shall her holy bounds increase        135
With walls of praise and gates of peace:
So shall the Vine, which martyr tears
And blood sustained in other years,
  With fresher life be clothed upon;
And to the world in beauty show        140
Like the rose-plant of Jericho,
  And glorious as Lebanon!

  1847.
 
 
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