To My Friend OnThe Death Of His Sister

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

Thine is a grief, the depth of which another
May never know;
Yet, o'er the waters, O my stricken brother!
To thee I go.

I lean my heart unto thee, sadly folding
Thy hand in mine;
With even the weakness of my soul upholding
The strength of thine.

I never knew, like thee, the dear departed;
I stood not by
When, in calm trust, the pure and tranquil-hearted
Lay down to die.

And on thy ears my words of weak condoling
Must vainly fall
The funeral bell which in thy heart is tolling,
Sounds over all!

I will not mock thee with the poor world's common
And heartless phrase,
Nor wrong the memory of a sainted woman
With idle praise.

With silence only as their benediction,
God's angels come
Where, in the shadow of a great affliction,
The soul sits dumb!

Yet, would I say what thy own heart approveth
Our Father's will,
Calling to Him the dear one whom He loveth,
Is mercy still.

Not upon thee or thine the solemn angel
Hath evil wrought
Her funeral anthem is a glad evangel,
The good die not!

God calls our loved ones, but we lose not wholly
What He hath given;
They live on earth, in thought and deed, as truly
As in His heaven.

And she is with thee; in thy path of trial
She walketh yet;
Still with the baptism of thy self-denial
Her locks are wet.

Up, then, my brother! Lo, the fields of harvest
Lie white in view
She lives and loves thee, and the God thou servest
To both is true.

Thrust in thy sickle! England's toilworn peasants
Thy call abide;
And she thou mourn'st, a pure and holy presence,
Shall glean beside!

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