John Greenleaf Whittier

Here you will find the Poem An Autograph of poet John Greenleaf Whittier

An Autograph

I write my name as one, 
On sands by waves o'errun 
Or winter's frosted pane, 
Traces a record vain. 

Oblivion's blankness claims 
Wiser and better names, 
And well my own may pass 
As from the strand or glass. 

Wash on, O waves of time! 
Melt, noons, the frosty rime! 
Welcome the shadow vast, 
The silence that shall last! 

When I and all who know 
And love me vanish so, 
What harm to them or me 
Will the lost memory be? 

If any words of mine, 
Through right of life divine, 
Remain, what matters it 
Whose hand the message writ? 

Why should the "crowner's quest" 
Sit on my worst or best? 
Why should the showman claim 
The poor ghost of my name? 

Yet, as when dies a sound 
Its spectre lingers round, 
Haply my spent life will 
Leave some faint echo still. 

A whisper giving breath 
Of praise or blame to death, 
Soothing or saddening such 
As loved the living much. 

Therefore with yearnings vain 
And fond I still would fain 
A kindly judgment seek, 
A tender thought bespeak. 

And, while my words are read, 
Let this at least be said: 
"Whate'er his life's defeatures, 
He loved his fellow-creatures. 

"If, of the Law's stone table, 
To hold he scarce was able 
The first great precept fast, 
He kept for man the last. 

"Through mortal lapse and dulness 
What lacks the Eternal Fulness, 
If still our weakness can 
Love Him in loving man? 

"Age brought him no despairing 
Of the world's future faring; 
In human nature still 
He found more good than ill. 

"To all who dumbly suffered, 
His tongue and pen he offered; 
His life was not his own, 
Nor lived for self alone. 

"Hater of din and riot 
He lived in days unquiet; 
And, lover of all beauty, 
Trod the hard ways of duty. 

"He meant no wrong to any 
He sought the good of many, 
Yet knew both sin and folly, -- 
May God forgive him wholly!"