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.
 
Occasional Poems
For an Autumn Festival
 
THE PERSIAN’S flowery gifts, the shrine
  Of fruitful Ceres, charm no more;
The woven wreaths of oak and pine
  Are dust along the Isthmian shore.
 
But beauty hath its homage still,        5
  And nature holds us still in debt;
And woman’s grace and household skill,
  And manhood’s toil, are honored yet.
 
And we, to-day, amidst our flowers
  And fruits, have come to own again        10
The blessings of the summer hours,
  The early and the latter rain;
 
To see our Father’s hand once more
  Reverse for us the plenteous horn
Of autumn, filled and running o’er        15
  With fruit, and flower, and golden corn!
 
Once more the liberal year laughs out
  O’er richer stores than gems or gold;
Once more with harvest-song and shout
  Is Nature’s bloodless triumph told.        20
 
Our common mother rests and sings,
  Like Ruth, among her garnered sheaves;
Her lap is full of goodly things,
  Her brow is bright with autumn leaves.
 
Oh, favors every year made new!        25
  Oh, gifts with rain and sunshine sent!
The bounty overruns our due,
  The fulness shames our discontent.
 
We shut our eyes, the flowers bloom on;
  We murmur, but the corn-ears fill,        30
We choose the shadow, but the sun
  That casts it shines behind us still.
 
God gives us with our rugged soil
  The power to make it Eden-fair,
And richer fruits to crown our toil        35
  Than summer-wedded islands bear.
 
Who murmurs at his lot to-day?
  Who scorns his native fruit and bloom?
Or sighs for dainties far away,
  Beside the bounteous board of home?        40
 
Thank Heaven, instead, that Freedom’s arm
  Can change a rocky soil to gold,—
That brave and generous lives can warm
  A clime with northern ices cold.
 
And let these altars, wreathed with flowers        45
  And piled with fruits, awake again
Thanksgivings for the golden hours,
  The early and the latter rain!

  1859.
 
 
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