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
The Memory of Burns
 
          Read at the Boston celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, 25th 1st mo., 1859. In my absence these lines were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

HOW sweetly come the holy psalms
  From saints and martyrs down,
The waving of triumphal palms
  Above the thorny crown!
The choral praise, the chanted prayers        5
  From harps by angels strung,
The hunted Cameron’s mountain airs,
  The hymns that Luther sung!
 
Yet, jarring not the heavenly notes,
  The sounds of earth are heard,        10
As through the open minster floats
  The song of breeze and bird!
Not less the wonder of the sky
  That daisies bloom below;
The brook sings on, though loud and high        15
  The cloudy organs blow!
 
And, if the tender ear be jarred
  That, haply, hears by turns
The saintly harp of Olney’s bard,
  The pastoral pipe of Burns,        20
No discord mars His perfect plan
  Who gave them both a tongue;
For he who sings the love of man
  The love of God hath sung!
 
To-day be every fault forgiven        25
  Of him in whom we joy!
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven
  And leave the earth’s alloy.
Be ours his music as of spring,
  His sweetness as of flowers,        30
The songs the bard himself might sing
  In holier ears than ours.
 
Sweet airs of love and home, the hum
  Of household melodies,
Come singing, as the robins come        35
  To sing in door-yard trees.
And, heart to heart, two nations lean,
  No rival wreaths to twine,
But blending in eternal green
  The holly and the pine!        40
 
 
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