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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

The Worship of Nature


              1The harp at Nature's advent strung
              2    Has never ceased to play;
              3The song the stars of morning sung
              4    Has never died away.

              5And prayer is made, and praise is given,
              6    By all things near and far;
              7The ocean looketh up to heaven,
              8    And mirrors every star.

              9Its waves are kneeling on the strand,
            10    As kneels the human knee,
            11Their white locks bowing to the sand,
            12    The priesthood of the sea!

            13They pour their glittering treasures forth,
            14    Their gifts of pearl they bring,
            15And all the listening hills of earth
            16    Take up the song they sing.

            17The green earth sends its incense up
            18    From many a mountain shrine;
            19From folded leaf and dewy cup
            20    She pours her sacred wine.

            21The mists above the morning rills
            22    Rise white as wings of prayer;
            23The altar-curtains of the hills
            24    Are sunset's purple air.

            25The winds with hymns of praise are loud,
            26    Or low with sobs of pain, --
            27The thunder-organ of the cloud,
            28    The dropping tears of rain.

            29With drooping head and branches crossed
            30    The twilight forest grieves,
            31Or speaks with tongues of Pentecost
            32    From all its sunlit leaves.

            33The blue sky is the temple's arch,
            34    Its transept earth and air,
            35The music of its starry march
            36    The chorus of a prayer.

            37So Nature keeps the reverent frame
            38    With which her years began,
            39And all her signs and voices shame
            40    The prayerless heart of man.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Cambridge edition, ed. H. E. S. (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1894): 261. PS 3250 E94 1894 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1867
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/27

Rhyme: abab


Other poems by John Greenleaf Whittier