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.
 
Appendix I. Early and Uncollected Verses
The Exile’s Departure
 
          I AM yielding to what seems, under the circumstances, almost a necessity, in adding to the pieces assigned for one reason or another to the limbo of an appendix, some of my very earliest attempts at verse, which have been kept alive in the newspapers for the last half century. A few of them have even been printed in book form without my consent, and greatly to my annoyance, with all their accumulated errors of the press added to their original defects and crudity. I suppose they should have died a natural death long ago, but their feline tenacity of life seems to contradict the theory of the “survival of the fittest.” I have consented, at my publishers’ request, to take the poor vagrants home and give them a more presentable appearance, in the hope that they may at least be of some interest to those who are curious enough to note the weak beginnings of the graduate of a small country district school, sixty years ago. That they met with some degree of favor at that time may be accounted for by the fact that the makers of verse were then few in number, with little competition in their unprofitable vocation, and that the standard of criticism was not discouragingly high.
  The earliest of the author’s verses that found their way into print were published in the Newburyport Free Press, edited by William Lloyd Garrison, in 1826.

FOND scenes, which delighted my youthful existence,
  With feelings of sorrow I bid ye adieu—
A lasting adieu! for now, dim in the distance,
  The shores of Hibernia recede from my view.
Farewell to the cliffs, tempest-beaten and gray,        5
  Which guard the lov’d shores of my own native land;
Farewell to the village and sail-shadow’d bay,
  The forest-crown’d hill and the water-wash’d strand.
 
I ’ve fought for my country—I ’ve brav’d all the dangers
  That throng round the path of the warrior in strife;        10
I now must depart to a nation of strangers,
  And pass in seclusion the remnant of life;
Far, far from the friends to my bosom most dear,
  With none to support me in peril and pain,
And none but the stranger to drop the sad tear        15
  On the grave where the heart-broken Exile is lain.
 
Friends of my youth! I must leave you forever,
  And hasten to dwell in a region unknown:—
Yet time cannot change, nor the broad ocean sever,
  Hearts firmly united and tried as our own.        20
Ah, no! though I wander, all sad and forlorn,
  In a far distant land, yet shall memory trace,
When far o’er the ocean’s white surges I ’m borne,
  The scene of past pleasures,—my own native place.
 
Farewell shores of Erin, green land of my fathers:—        25
  Once more, and forever, a mournful adieu!
For round thy dim headlands the ocean-mist gathers,
  And shrouds the fair isle I no longer can view.
I go—but wherever my footsteps I bend,
  For freedom and peace to my own native isle,        30
And contentment and joy to each warm-hearted friend
  Shall be the heart’s prayer of the lonely Exile!

  HAVERHILL, 1825.
 
 
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