Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROGER WILLIAMS, by SARAH HELEN POWER WHITMAN



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ROGER WILLIAMS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Listen to his rich words, intoned
Last Line: In liberty and law.
Subject(s): Providence, Rhode Island; Williams, Roger (1604-1683)


LISTEN to his rich words, intoned
To songs of lofty cheer,
Who in the howling wilderness,
Mid forests wild and drear,

Breathed not of exile nor of wrong,
Through the long winter nights,
But uttered in exulting song,
The soul's unchartered rights;

Who sought the oracles of God
In the heart's veiled shrine,
Nor asked the monarch nor the priest,
His sacred laws to sign.

The brave, high heart that would not yield
Its liberty of thought,
Far o'er the melancholy main,
Through bitter trials brought;

But, to a double exile doomed,
By Faith's pure guidance led, --
Through the dark labyrinth of life,
Held fast her golden thread.

Listen! The music of his dream
Perchance may linger still
In the old familiar places
Beneath the emerald hill.

The wave-worn rock still breasts the storm
On Seekonk's lonely side,
Where the dusk natives hailed the bark
That bore their gentle guide.

The spring that gushed amid the wild
In music on his ear,
Still pours its waters, undefiled,
The fainting heart to cheer.

And the fair cove, that slept so calm
Beneath o'ershadowing hills,
And bore the exile's evening psalm
Far up its flowery rills, --

The wave that parted to receive
The pilgrim's light canoe,
As if an angel's balmy wing
Had stirred its waters blue, --

What though the fire-winged courser's breath
Has swept its cooling tide,
And fast before its withering blast,
The rushing wave has dried,

Still, narrowed to our crowded mart, --
A fair enchanted mere, --
In the proud city's throbbing heart
It sleeps serene and clear.

Or turn we to the green hill's side;
There, with the spring-time showers,
The white-thorn o'er a nameless grave,
Rains its pale, silver flowers.

Yet memory lingers with the past,
Nor vainly seeks to trace
His footprints on a rock, whence time
Nor tempests can efface;

Whereon he planted, fast and deep,
The roof-tree of a home
Wide as the wings of Love may sweep,
Free as her thoughts may roam;

Where through all time the saints may dwell,
And from pure fountains draw
That peace which passeth human thought,
In liberty and law.





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