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
In Memory: James T. Fields
 
AS a guest who may not stay
Long and sad farewells to say
Glides with smiling face away,
 
Of the sweetness and the zest
Of thy happy life possessed        5
Thou hast left us at thy best.
 
Warm of heart and clear of brain,
Of thy sun-bright spirit’s wane
Thou hast spared us all the pain.
 
Now that thou hast gone away,        10
What is left of one to say
Who was open as the day?
 
What is there to gloss or shun?
Save with kindly voices none
Speak thy name beneath the sun.        15
 
Safe thou art on every side,
Friendship nothing finds to hide,
Love’s demand is satisfied.
 
Over manly strength and worth,
At thy desk of toil, or hearth,        20
Played the lambent light of mirth,—
 
Mirth that lit, but never burned;
All thy blame to pity turned;
Hatred thou hadst never learned.
 
Every harsh and vexing thing        25
At thy home-fire lost its sting;
Where thou wast was always spring.
 
And thy perfect trust in good,
Faith in man and womanhood,
Chance and change and time withstood.        30
 
Small respect for cant and whine,
Bigot’s zeal and hate malign,
Had that sunny soul of thine.
 
But to thee was duty’s claim
Sacred, and thy lips became        35
Reverent with one holy Name.
 
Therefore, on thy unknown way,
Go in God’s peace! We who stay
But a little while delay.
 
Keep for us, O friend, where’er        40
Thou art waiting, all that here
Made thy earthly presence dear;
 
Something of thy pleasant past
On a ground of wonder cast,
In the stiller waters glassed!        45
 
Keep the human heart of thee;
Let the mortal only be
Clothed in immortality.
 
And when fall our feet as fell
Thine upon the asphodel,        50
Let thy old smile greet us well;
 
Proving in a world of bliss
What we fondly dream in this,—
Love is one with holiness!

  1881.
 
 
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