« VorigeDoorgaan »
The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes; And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
On the billows fall and rise.
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow !
On the reef of Norman's Woe!
THE SHIP OF STATE.
Thou too sail on, O Ship of State !
The sound of hammers, blow on blow,
she seems to feel
NEVER stoops the soaring vulture
So disasters come not singly;
Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness grinds he all.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, the Quaker poet, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1808. His youth was spent on the paternal farm, and liis educational opportunities were not first-rate. He possessed a keen appetite for knowledge, however, and at the age of twenty-one had so enriched and disciplined his mind that he was thought competent to fill the editorial chair of a Boston paper. One year later he went to Hartford, where he edited the New England Weekly. In 1831 he returned to Haverhill, where he remained five years, engaged in agriculture, and serving the State as Representative in the Legislature through two termis. From boyhood he had been deeply interested in the subject of slavery, and his convictions of the sinfulness of that institution were strengthened with his growth. He was one of the original members of the American Antislavery Society, and having been appointed one of its secretaries, he took up his residence at Philadelphia in 1836, and for four years wrote constantly for antislavery periodicals. In 1810 he established himself at Amesbury, Massachusetts, which has ever since been his home. His first volume, Legends of New England in Prose and Verse, was published in 1831. This has been followed at frequent intervals by nearly thirty volumes, mostly of verse. During the late war he poured forth a multitude of strong and stirring lyrics which helped not a little to sustain and energize public sentiment; and the literature of the antislavery struggle, from its beginning to its end, liad in him an active and efficient contributor. Mr. Whittier's earlier poems deal largely with the colonial annals of New England, and some of the most interesting traditions of that region have been preserved for remote posterity in his graphic and vigorous lines. Two of Mr. Whittier's poems have enjoyed an exceptional popularity, Maud Muller and Snow-Bound; the first, telling the story of a universal experience, appeals to every heart, while the second affords the most faithful and finished pictures of winter life in rural New England that have ever been drawn by a poet. No American poet, it may be said, is so free as Mr. Whittier from obligations to English writers; his poems show no evidence of appropriation, or even of a study of masterpieces so assiduous and appreciative as almost inevitably to entail a general resemblance. He is eminently original, and eminently American. One principal charm of his poetry consists in its catholicity; he sings not of himself, but for humanity, and his voice is heeded as if it hore a special call to all who heard it. The moral tone of his writings is uncompromisingly high ; his highest inspiration is found in the thought of elevating or helping his fellow-man, or widening the bounds of his freedom. The sentiment of Mr. Whittier's verse is generally elevated, and is expressed with mingled tenderness and dignity. His style lacks elegance, and is sometimes marred by positive faults; but these are more than balanced by the vigor of his lyrics and the intensity of his didactic passages.
Maud MULLER, on a summer's day,
Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth
Singing, she wrought, and her merry glee
But, when she glanced to the far-off town,