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
George L. Stearns
 
          No man rendered greater service to the cause of freedom than Major Stearns in the great struggle between invading slave-holders and the free settlers of Kansas.

HE has done the work of a true man,—
  Crown him, honor him, love him.
Weep over him, tears of woman,
  Stoop manliest brows above him!
 
O dusky mothers and daughters,        5
  Vigils of mourning keep for him!
Up in the mountains, and down by the waters,
  Lift up your voices and weep for him!
 
For the warmest of hearts is frozen,
  The freest of hands is still;        10
And the gap in our picked and chosen
  The long years may not fill.
 
No duty could overtask him,
  No need his will outrun;
Or ever our lips could ask him,        15
  His hands the work had done.
 
He forgot his own soul for others,
  Himself to his neighbor lending;
He found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
  And not in the clouds descending.        20
 
So the bed was sweet to die on,
  Whence he saw the doors wide swung
Against whose bolted iron
  The strength of his life was flung.
 
And he saw ere his eye was darkened        25
  The sheaves of the harvest-bringing,
And knew while his ear yet hearkened
  The voice of the reapers singing.
 
Ah, well! The world is discreet;
  There are plenty to pause and wait;        30
But here was a man who set his feet
  Sometimes in advance of fate;
 
Plucked off the old bark when the inner
  Was slow to renew it,
And put to the Lord’s work the sinner        35
  When saints failed to do it.
 
Never rode to the wrong’s redressing
  A worthier paladin.
Shall he not hear the blessing,
  “Good and faithful, enter in!”

  1867.
        40
 
 
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