Chalkey Hall

How bland and sweet the greeting of this breeze
To him who flies
From crowded street and red wall's weary gleam,
Till far behind him like a hideous dream
The close dark city lies
Here, while the market murmurs, while men throng
The marble floor
Of Mammon's altar, from the crush and din
Of the world's madness let me gather in
My better thoughts once more.

Oh, once again revive, while on my ear
The cry of Gain
And low hoarse hum of Traffic die away,
Ye blessed memories of my early day
Like sere grass wet with rain!

Once more let God's green earth and sunset air
Old feelings waken;
Through weary years of toil and strife and ill,
Oh, let me feel that my good angel still
Hath not his trust forsaken.

And well do time and place befit my mood
Beneath the arms
Of this embracing wood, a good man made
His home, like Abraham resting in the shade
Of Mamre's lonely palms.

Here, rich with autumn gifts of countless years,
The virgin soil
Turned from the share he guided, and in rain
And summer sunshine throve the fruits and grain
Which blessed his honest toil.

Here, from his voyages on the stormy seas,
Weary and worn,
He came to meet his children and to bless
The Giver of all good in thankfulness
And praise for his return.

And here his neighbors gathered in to greet
Their friend again,
Safe from the wave and the destroying gales,
Which reap untimely green Bermuda's vales,
And vex the Carib main.

To hear the good man tell of simple truth,
Sown in an hour
Of weakness in some far-off Indian isle,
From the parched bosom of a barren soil,
Raised up in life and power.

How at those gatherings in Barbadian vales,
A tendering love
Came o'er him, like the gentle rain from heaven,
And words of fitness to his lips were given,
And strength as from above.

How the sad captive listened to the Word,
Until his chain
Grew lighter, and his wounded spirit felt
The healing balm of consolation melt
Upon its life-long pain

How the armed warrior sat him down to hear
Of Peace and Truth,
And the proud ruler and his Creole dame,
Jewelled and gorgeous in her beauty came,
And fair and bright-eyed youth.

Oh, far away beneath New England's sky,
Even when a boy,
Following my plough by Merrimac's green shore,
His simple record I have pondered o'er
With deep and quiet joy.

And hence this scene, in sunset glory warm,--
Its woods around,
Its still stream winding on in light and shade,
Its soft, green meadows and its upland glade,--
To me is holy ground.

And dearer far than haunts where Genius keeps
His vigils still;
Than that where Avon's son of song is laid,
Or Vaucluse hallowed by its Petrarch's shade,
Or Virgil's laurelled hill.

To the gray walls of fallen Paraclete,
To Juliet's urn,
Fair Arno and Sorrento's orange-grove,
Where Tasso sang, let young Romance and Love
Like brother pilgrims turn.

But here a deeper and serener charm
To all is given;
And blessed memories of the faithful dead
O'er wood and vale and meadow-stream have shed
The holy hues of Heaven!

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John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. more…

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"Chalkey Hall" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22872/chalkey-hall>.

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