The Worship of Nature

By John Greenleaf Whittier 1807–1892 John Greenleaf Whittier
The harp at Nature’s advent strung
      Has never ceased to play;
The song the stars of morning sung
      Has never died away.

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

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

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

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

The mists above the morning rills
      Rise white as wings of prayer;
The altar-curtains of the hills
      Are sunset’s purple air.

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

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

The blue sky is the temple’s arch,
      Its transept earth and air,
The music of its starry march
      The chorus of a prayer.

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

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Poet John Greenleaf Whittier 1807–1892

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Religion, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Other Religions, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Common Measure

 John  Greenleaf Whittier

Biography

The 1866 publication of his long poem Snow-Bound brought John Greenleaf Whittier popular acclaim and financial security. But literary success was of secondary importance to him: his priorities were dictated by his Quaker faith and his courageous battle against slavery. Whittier was born and raised on a farm near Haverhill, Massachusetts, and felt a strong kinship throughout his life with the hard-working, rural poor.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Other Religions, The Spiritual

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Common Measure

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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