To J. P.

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

John Pierpont, the eloquent preacher and poet of Boston.

Not as a poor requital of the joy
With which my childhood heard that lay of thine,
Which, like an echo of the song divine
At Bethlehem breathed above the Holy Boy,
Bore to my ear the Airs of Palestine,
Not to the poet, but the man I bring
In friendship's fearless trust my offering
How much it lacks I feel, and thou wilt see,
Yet well I know that thou Last deemed with me
Life all too earnest, and its time too short
For dreamy ease and Fancy's graceful sport;
And girded for thy constant strife with wrong,
Like Nehemiah fighting while he wrought
The broken walls of Zion, even thy song
Hath a rude martial tone, a blow in every thought!

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