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Anti-Slavery Poems
To the Memory of Thomas Shipley

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Thomas Shipley of Philadelphia was a lifelong Christian philanthropist,
and advocate of emancipation. At his funeral thousands of colored people
came to take their last look at their friend and protector. He died
September 17, 1836.

Gone to thy Heavenly Father's rest!
The flowers of Eden round thee blowing,
And on thine ear the murmurs blest
Of Siloa's waters softly flowing!

Beneath that Tree of Life which gives
To all the earth its healing leaves
In the white robe of angels clad,
And wandering by that sacred river,
Whose streams of holiness make glad
The city of our God forever!

Gentlest of spirits! not for thee
Our tears are shed, our sighs are given;
Why mourn to know thou art a free
Partaker of the joys of heaven?
Finished thy work, and kept thy faith
In Christian firmness unto death;
And beautiful as sky and earth,
When autumn's sun is downward going,
The blessed memory of thy worth
Around thy place of slumber glowing!

But woe for us! who linger still
With feebler strength and hearts less lowly,
And minds less steadfast to the will
Of Him whose every work is holy.
For not like thine, is crucified
The spirit of our human pride
And at the bondman's tale of woe,
And for the outcast and forsaken,
Not warm like thine, but cold and slow,
Our weaker sympathies awaken.

Darkly upon our struggling way
The storm of human hate is sweeping;
Hunted and branded, and a prey,
Our watch amidst the darkness keeping,
Oh, for that hidden strength which can
Nerve unto death the inner man
Oh, for thy spirit, tried and true,
And constant in the hour of trial,
Prepared to suffer, or to do,
In meekness and in self-denial.

Oh, for that spirit, meek and mild,
Derided, spurned, yet uncomplaining;
By man deserted and reviled,
Yet faithful to its trust remaining.
Still prompt and resolute to save
From scourge and chain the hunted slave;
Unwavering in the Truth's defence,
Even where the fires of Hate were burning,
The unquailing eye of innocence
Alone upon the oppressor turning!

O loved of thousands! to thy grave,
Sorrowing of heart, thy brethren bore thee.
The poor man and the rescued slave
Wept as the broken earth closed o'er thee;
And grateful tears, like summer rain,
Quickened its dying grass again!
And there, as to some pilgrim-shrine,
Shall cone the outcast and the lowly,
Of gentle deeds and words of thine
Recalling memories sweet and holy!

Oh, for the death the righteous die!
An end, like autumn's day declining,
On human hearts, as on the sky,
With holier, tenderer beauty shining;
As to the parting soul were given
The radiance of an opening heaven!
As if that pure and blessed light,
From off the Eternal altar flowing,
Were bathing, in its upward flight,
The spirit to its worship going!

1836.
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