John Greenleaf Whittier Poems >>
FROM the heart of Waumbek Methna, from the
lake that never fails,
Falls the Saco in the green lap of Conway's
There, in wild and virgin freshness, its waters
foam and flow,
As when Darby Field first saw them, two hundred
But, vexed in all its seaward course with bridges,
dams, and mills,
How changed is Saco's stream, how lost its freedom
of the hills,
Since travelled Jocelyn, factor Vines, and stately
Heard on its banks the gray wolf's howl, the trumpet
of the loon!
With smoking axle hot with speed, with steeds of
fire and steam,
Wide-waked To-day leaves Yesterday behind him
like a dream.
Still, from the hurrying train of Life, fly backward
far and fast
The milestones of the fathers, the landmarks of
But human hearts remain unchanged: the sorrow
and the sin,
The loves and hopes and fears of old, are to our
And if, in tales our fathers told, the songs our
Tradition wears a snowy beard, Romance is always
O sharp-lined man of traffic, on Saco's banks today!
O mill-girl watching late and long the shuttle's
Let, for the once, a listening ear the working hand
And lend my old Provincial tale, as suits, a tear or
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
The evening gun had sounded from gray Fort
Through the forest, like a wild beast, roared and
plunged the Saco's' falls.
And westward on the sea-wind, that damp and
Over cedars darkening inland the smokes of Spurwink
On the hearth of Farmer Garvin, blazed the crackling
Right and left sat dame and goodman, and between
them lay the dog,
Head on paws, and tail slow wagging, and beside
him on her mat,
Sitting drowsy in the firelight, winked and purred
the mottled cat.
"Twenty years!" said Goodman Garvin, speaking
sadly, under breath,
And his gray head slowly shaking, as one who
speaks of death.
The goodwife dropped her needles: "It is twenty
Since the Indians fell on Saco, and stole our child
Then they sank into the silence, for each knew
the other's thought,
Of a great and common sorrow, and words were,
"Who knocks?" cried Goodman Garvin. The
door was open thrown;
On two strangers, man and maiden, cloaked and
furred, the fire-light shone.
One with courteous gesture lifted the bear-skin
from his head;
"Lives here Elkanah Garvin?" "I am he," the
"Sit ye down, and dry and warm ye, for the night
is chill with rain."
And the goodwife drew the settle, and stirred the
The maid unclasped her cloak-hood, the firelight
In her large, moist eyes, and over soft folds of
dark brown hair.
Dame Garvin looked upon her: "It is Mary's self
"Dear heart!" she cried, "now tell me, has my
child come back to me?"
"My name indeed is Mary," said the stranger sobbing
"Will you be to me a mother? I am Mary Garvin's child!"
"She sleeps by wooded Simcoe, but on her dying
She bade my father take me to her kinsfolk far
"And when the priest besought her to do me no
She said, 'May God forgive me! I have closed
my heart too long.'
"'When I hid me from my father, and shut out
my mother's call,
I sinned against those dear ones, and the Father
of us all.
"'Christ's love rebukes no home-love, breaks no
tie of kin apart;
Better heresy in doctrine, than heresy of heart.
"'Tell me not the Church must censure: she who
wept the Cross beside
Never made her own flesh strangers, nor the claims
of blood denied;
"'And if she who wronged her parents, with her
child atones to them,
Earthly daughter, Heavenly Mother! thou at least
wilt not condemn!'
"So, upon her death-bed lying, my blessed mother
As we come to do her bidding, So receive us for her
"God be praised!" said Goodwife Garvin, "He taketh,
and He gives;
He woundeth, but He healeth; in her child our
"Amen!" the old man answered, as he brushed a
And, kneeling by his hearthstone, said, with reverence,
"Let us pray."
All its Oriental symbols, and its Hebrew pararphrase,
Warm with earnest life and feeling, rose his prayer
of love and praise.
But he started at beholding, as he rose from off
The stranger cross his forehead with the sign of
"What is this?" cried Farmer Garvin. "Is an English
A chapel or a mass-house, that you make the sign
Then the young girl knelt beside him, kissed his
trembling hand, and cried:
Oh, forbear to chide my father; in that faith my
"On her wooden cross at Simcoe the dews and
As they fall on Spurwink's graveyard; and the
dear God watches all!"
The old man stroked the fair head that rested on
"Your words, dear child," he answered, "are God's
rebuke to me.
"Creed and rite perchance may differ, yet our
faith and hope be one.
Let me be your father's father, let him be to me
When the horn, on Sabbath morning, through the
still and frosty air,
From Spurwink, Pool, and Black Point, called to
sermon and to prayer,
To the goodly house of worship, where, in order
due and fit,
As by public vote directed, classed and ranked the
Mistress first and goodwife after, clerkly squire
before the clown,
"From the brave coat, lace-embroidered, to the gray
frock, shading down;"
From the pulpit read the preacher, "Goodman
Garvin and his wife
Fain would thank the Lord, whose kindness has
followed them through life,
"For the great and crowning mercy, that their
daughter, from the wild,
Where she rests (they hope in God's peace), has
sent to them her child;
"And the prayers of all God's people they ask,
that they may prove
Not unworthy, through their weakness, of such
special proof of love."
As the preacher prayed, uprising, the aged couple
And the fair Canadian also, in her modest maiden-
Thought the elders, grave and doubting, "She is
Papist born and bred;"
Thought the young men, "'T is an angel in Mary
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Based on Topics: Love Poems, Man Poems, God Poems, Life Poems, Night Poems, Mind Poems, Sadness Poems, Death & Dying Poems, Youth Poems, Fairness Poems, Dreams Poems
Based on Keywords: classed, fire-light, goodwife, heresy, papist, purred, darby, unclasped, bear-skin, clerkly, healeth