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
The Sisters
 
ANNIE and Rhoda, sisters twain,
Woke in the night to the sound of rain,
 
The rush of wind, the ramp and roar
Of great waves climbing a rocky shore.
 
Annie rose up in her bed-gown white,        5
And looked out into the storm and night.
 
“Hush, and hearken!” she cried in fear,
“Hearest thou nothing, sister dear?”
 
“I hear the sea, and the plash of rain,
And roar of the northeast hurricane.        10
 
“Get thee back to the bed so warm,
No good comes of watching a storm.
 
“What is it to thee, I fain would know,
That waves are roaring and wild winds blow?
 
“No lover of thine ’s afloat to miss        15
The harbor-lights on a night like this.”
 
“But I heard a voice cry out my name,
Up from the sea on the wind it came!
 
“Twice and thrice have I heard it call,
And the voice is the voice of Estwick Hall!”        20
 
On her pillow the sister tossed her head.
“Hall of the Heron is safe,” she said.
 
“In the tautest schooner that ever swam
He rides at anchor in Anisquam.
 
“And, if in peril from swamping sea        25
Or lee shore rocks, would he call on thee?”
 
But the girl heard only the wind and tide,
And wringing her small white hands she cried:
 
“O sister Rhoda, there ’s something wrong;
I hear it again, so loud and long.        30
 
“‘Annie! Annie!’ I hear it call,
And the voice is the voice of Estwick Hall!”
 
Up sprang the elder, with eyes aflame,
“Thou liest! He never would call thy name!
 
“If he did, I would pray the wind and sea        35
To keep him forever from thee and me!”
 
Then out of the sea blew a dreadful blast;
Like the cry of a dying man it passed.
 
The young girl hushed on her lips a groan,
But through her tears a strange light shone,—        40
 
The solemn joy of her heart’s release
To own and cherish its love in peace.
 
“Dearest!” she whispered, under breath,
“Life was a lie, but true is death.
 
“The love I hid from myself away        45
Shall crown me now in the light of day.
 
“My ears shall never to wooer list,
Never by lover my lips be kissed.
 
“Sacred to thee am I henceforth,
Thou in heaven and I on earth!”        50
 
She came and stood by her sister’s bed:
“Hall of the Heron is dead!” she said.
 
“The wind and the waves their work have done,
We shall see him no more beneath the sun.
 
“Little will reck that heart of thine,        55
It loved him not with a love like mine.
 
“I, for his sake, were he but here,
Could hem and ’broider thy bridal gear,
 
“Though hands should tremble and eyes be wet,
And stitch for stitch in my heart be set.        60
 
“But now my soul with his soul I wed;
Thine the living, and mine the dead!”

  1871.
 
 
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