Lines On The Death Of S. Oliver Torrey

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

Secretary of the Boston young men's anti-slavery society.


Gone before us, O our brother,
To the spirit-land!
Vainly look we for another
In thy place to stand.
Who shall offer youth and beauty
On the wasting shrine
Of a stern and lofty duty,
With a faith like thine?

Oh, thy gentle smile of greeting
Who again shall see?
Who amidst the solemn meeting
Gaze again on thee?
Who when peril gathers o'er us,
Wear so calm a brow?
Who, with evil men before us,
So serene as thou?

Early hath the spoiler found thee,
Brother of our love!
Autumn's faded earth around thee,
And its storms above!
Evermore that turf lie lightly,
And, with future showers,
O'er thy slumbers fresh and brightly
Blow the summer flowers

In the locks thy forehead gracing,
Not a silvery streak;
Nor a line of sorrow's tracing
On thy fair young cheek;
Eyes of light and lips of roses,
Such as Hylas wore,
Over all that curtain closes,
Which shall rise no more!

Will the vigil Love is keeping
Round that grave of thine,
Mournfully, like Jazer weeping
Over Sibmah's vine;
Will the pleasant memories, swelling
Gentle hearts, of thee,
In the spirit's distant dwelling
All unheeded be?

If the spirit ever gazes,
From its journeyings, back;
If the immortal ever traces
O'er its mortal track;
Wilt thou not, O brother, meet us
Sometimes on our way,
And, in hours of sadness, greet us
As a spirit may?

Peace be with thee, O our brother,
In the spirit-land
Vainly look we for another
In thy place to stand.
Unto Truth and Freedom giving
All thy early powers,
Be thy virtues with the living,
And thy spirit ours

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