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 Robin
 
MY old Welsh neighbor over the way
  Crept slowly out in the sun of spring,
Pushed from her ears the locks of gray,
  And listened to hear the robin sing.
 
Her grandson, playing at marbles, stopped,        5
  And, cruel in sport as boys will be,
Tossed a stone at the bird, who hopped
  From bough to bough in the apple-tree.
 
“Nay!” said the grandmother; “have you not heard,
  My poor, bad boy! of the fiery pit,        10
And how, drop by drop, this merciful bird
  Carries the water that quenches it?
 
“He brings cool dew in his little bill,
  And lets it fall on the souls of sin:
You can see the mark on his red breast still        15
  Of fires that scorch as he drops it in.
 
“My poor Bron rhuddyn! my breast-burned bird,
  Singing so sweetly from limb to limb,
Very dear to the heart of Our Lord
  Is he who pities the lost like Him!”        20
 
“Amen!” I said to the beautiful myth;
  “Sing, bird of God, in my heart as well:
Each good thought is a drop wherewith
  To cool and lessen the fires of hell.
 
“Prayers of love like rain-drops fall,        25
  Tears of pity are cooling dew,
And dear to the heart of Our Lord are all
  Who suffer like Him in the good they do!”

  1871.
 
 
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