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.
 
Narrative and Legendary Poems
Mabel Martin
Proem
 
        
A Harvest Idyl
  
  Susanna Martin, an aged woman of Amesbury, Mass., was tried and executed for the alleged crime of witchcraft. Her home was in what is now known as Pleasant Valley on the Merrimac, a little above the old Ferry way, where, tradition says, an attempt was made to assassinate Sir Edmund Andros on his way to Falmouth (afterward Portland) and Pemaquid, which was frustrated by a warning timely given. Goody Martin was the only woman hanged on the north side of the Merrimac during the dreadful delusion. The aged wife of Judge Bradbury who lived on the other side of the Powow River was imprisoned and would have been put to death but for the collapse of the hideous persecution.
  The substance of the poem which follows was published under the name of The Witch’s Daughter, in The National Era in 1857. In 1875 my publishers desired to issue it with illustrations, and I then enlarged it and otherwise altered it to its present form. The principal addition was in the verses which constitute Part I.

I CALL the old time back: I bring my lay
In tender memory of the summer day
When, where our native river lapsed away,
 
We dreamed it over, while the thrushes made
Songs of their own, and the great pine-trees laid        5
On warm noonlights the masses of their shade.
 
And she was with us, living o’er again
Her life in ours, despite of years and pain,—
The Autumn’s brightness after latter rain.
 
Beautiful in her holy peace as one        10
Who stands, at evening, when the work is done,
Glorified in the setting of the sun!
 
Her memory makes our common landscape seem
Fairer than any of which painters dream;
Lights the brown hills and sings in every stream;        15
 
For she whose speech was always truth’s pure gold
Heard, not unpleased, its simple legends told,
And loved with us the beautiful and old.
 
 
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