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
Naples
 
        
Inscribed to Robert C. Waterston, of Boston
  
  Helen Waterston died at Naples in her eighteenth year, and lies buried in the Protestant cemetery there. The stone over her grave bears the lines,
 Fold her, O Father, in Thine arms,
  And let her henceforth be
A messenger of love between
  Our human hearts and Thee.

    I GIVE thee joy!—I know to thee
    The dearest spot on earth must be
Where sleeps thy loved one by the summer sea;
 
    Where, near her sweetest poet’s tomb,
    The land of Virgil gave thee room        5
To lay thy flower with her perpetual bloom.
 
    I know that when the sky shut down
    Behind thee on the gleaming town,
On Baiæ’s baths and Posilippo’s crown;
 
    And, through thy tears, the mocking day        10
    Burned Ischia’s mountain lines away,
And Capri melted in its sunny bay;
 
    Through thy great farewell sorrow shot
    The sharp pang of a bitter thought
That slaves must tread around that holy spot.        15
 
    Thou knewest not the land was blest
    In giving thy beloved rest,
Holding the fond hope closer to her breast
 
That every sweet and saintly grave
    Was freedom’s prophecy, and gave        20
The pledge of Heaven to sanctify and save.
 
    That pledge is answered. To thy ear
    The unchained city sends its cheer,
And, tuned to joy, the muffled bells of fear
 
    Ring Victor in. The land sits free        25
    And happy by the summer sea,
And Bourbon Naples now is Italy!
 
    She smiles above her broken chain
    The languid smile that follows pain,
Stretching her cramped limbs to the sun again.        30
 
    Oh, joy for all, who hear her call
    From gray Camaldoli’s convent-wall
And Elmo’s towers to freedom’s carnival!
 
    A new life breathes among her vines
    And olives, like the breath of pines        35
Blown downward from the breezy Apennines.
 
    Lean, O my friend, to meet that breath,
    Rejoice as one who witnesseth
Beauty from ashes rise, and life from death!
 
    Thy sorrow shall no more be pain,        40
    Its tears shall fall in sunlit rain,
Writing the grave with flowers: “Arisen again!”

  1860.
 
 
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