John Greenleaf Whittier

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John Greenleaf Whittier – 18 October 2007

The Quaker abolitionist and popular poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, was born 17 December 1807 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. As a lifelong journalist, he published many of his poems in the newspapers that he edited. He won election to the state legislature in 1835 and ran for Congress on the Liberty Party platform in 1842. In 1886 he received an honorary degree from Harvard. On 7 September 1892, John Greenleaf Whittier died at Hampton Halls, New Hampshire and was buried at Amesbury, Massachusetts.

This short poem by Whittier is in one of our old books of American poetry. In my opinion, the message the poet tries to convey is that difficulties in life can serve a purpose and bring us closer to God:

By John Greenleaf Whittier
(17 December 1807 - 7 September 1892)

The clouds, which rise with thunder, slake
Our thirsty souls with rain;
The blow most dreaded falls to break
From off our limbs a chain;
And wrongs of man to man but make
The love of God more plain.
As though the shadowy lens of even
The eye looks farthest into heaven
On gleams of star and depths of blue
The glaring sunshine never knew!

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"Joyful Curmudgeon"
An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.

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