Personal Poems II Part 2, from Volume IV., the Works of Whittier: Personal Poems

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Excerpt THE CROSS. Richard Dillingham, a young member of the Society of Friends, died in the Nashville penitentiary, where he was confined for the act of aiding the escape of fugitive slaves. "The cross, if rightly borne, shall beNo burden, but support to thee;"So, moved of old time for our sake,The holy monk of Kempen spake. Thou brave and true one! upon whomWas laid the cross of martyrdom,How didst thou, in thy generous youth,Bear witness to this blessed truth! Thy cross of suffering and of shameA staff within thy hands became,In paths where faith alone could seeThe Master's steps supporting thee. Thine was the seed-time; God aloneBeholds the end of what is sown;Beyond our vision, weak and dim,The harvest-time is hid with Him. Yet, unforgotten where it lies,That seed of generous sacrifice,Though seeming on the desert cast,Shall rise with bloom and fruit at last.1852. THE HERO. The hero of the incident related in this poem was Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the well-known philanthropist, who when a young man volunteered his aid in the Greek struggle for independence. "Oh for a knight like Bayard,Without reproach or fear;My light glove on his casque of steel,My love-knot on his spear! "Oh for the white plume floatingSad Zutphen's field above,—The lion heart in battle,The woman's heart in love! "Oh that man once more were manly,Woman's pride, and not her scorn:That once more the pale young motherDared to boast `a man is born'! "But, now life's slumberous currentNo sun-bowed cascade wakes;No tall, heroic manhoodThe level dulness breaks. "Oh for a knight like Bayard,Without reproach or fear!My light glove on his casque of steel,My love-knot on his spear!" Then I said, my own heart throbbingTo the time her proud pulse beat,"Life hath its regal natures yet,True, tender, brave, and sweet! "Smile not, fair unbeliever!One man, at least, I know,Who might wear the crest of BayardOr Sidney's plume of snow. "Once, when over purple mountainsDied away the Grecian sun,And the far Cyllenian rangesPaled and darkened, one by one,— "Fell the Turk, a bolt of thunder,Cleaving all the quiet sky,And against his sharp steel lightningsStood the Suliote but to die. "Woe for the weak and halting!The crescent blazed behindA curving line of sabres,Like fire before the wind! "Last to fly, and first to rally,Rode he of whom I speak,When, groaning in his bridle-path,Sank down a wounded Greek. "With the rich Albanian costumeWet with many a ghastly stain,Gazing on earth and sky as oneWho might not gaze again. "He looked forward to the mountains,Back on foes that never spare,Then flung him from his saddle,And placed the stranger there. "'Allah! hu!' Through flashing sabres,Through a stormy hail of lead,The good Thessalian chargerUp the slopes of olives sped. "Hot spurred the turbaned riders;He almost felt their breath,Where a mountain stream rolled darkly downBetween the hills and death. "One brave and manful struggle,—He gained the solid land,And the cover of the mountains,And the carbines of his band!" "It was very great and noble,"Said the moist-eyed listener then,"But one brave deed makes no hero;Tell me what he since hath been!" "Still a brave and generous manhood,Still an honor without stain,In the prison of the Kaiser,By the barricades of Seine....
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