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John Pierpont (Джон Пирпонт)

To My Grave

I look upon thee as a place of rest-
To me, of welcome rest; for I am tired!
I do not mean that I am tired of life,-
Of seeing the good sun, and the green trees;
Of hearing the sad whisper of the pine
That shades thee, as the summer's sun goes down,
And shields thee, too, from winter's howling blasts.-
That whisper is too thoughtful and too sad
To tire my spirit, for it is of peace.
It is the very voice of the Lord God,
That Adam heard walking among the trees
Of his own garden, in the cool of day:
And, as I hear it, I would not retire,
Or hide myself from Him who soothes me thus.
I am not tired of the sweet light that falls,
My grave, upon thee in the smiling spring,
Or in those sober days when autumn strews
His rustling leaves so plentifully round;
Nor, of the light, still sweeter, that the moon
Sheds from the holy sky, while, through its vault
She walks in queenly beauty. But I'm tired
Of the false smile, that lightens up the face
Of hollow-hearted, cold, and selfish man;
As moonlight glances from the treacherous ice
That sheets yon river's bosom o'er, but breaks,
Whene'er you trust its strength, and lets you in.
I'm tired of all the heartless show of love
For whatsoever things are pure, or true,
Or just, or lovely, or of good report,
Whene'er these things are seen or thought to stand
In Fashion's, or in sordid Mammon's way.

No, I'm not tired of life;-nor am I tired
Of duty, toil, or trial. From the cup
My Father giveth, bitter though it be,
O, let me never turn my lips away,
Or, froward, lift my hand to push it from them.
But I am tired of sowing where the thorns,-
The cares and the deceitfulness of riches,-
Not only choke the word and make it fruitless,
But pierce my feet,-though I would humbly hope
They're with the Gospel's preparation shod,-
And where there are rough hands to cut those thorns
And twist them into withes around my temples,
Or, like the Roman lictor's gory rods,
Ply them to scourge me, bleeding, from the field,-
The field where I, so many years, have borne
The burden and the heat of my life's day;
And where it is 'my heart's desire and prayer,'
That I may close my labors and my life.

My grave! I've marked thee on this sunny slope,
The warm, dry slope of Auburn's wood-crowned hill,
That overlooks the Charles, and Roxbury's fields,
That lie beyond it, as lay Canaan's green
And smiling landscape beyond Jordan's flood,
As seen by Moses. Standing by thy side,
I see the distant city's domes and spires.
There stands the church within whose lofty walls
My voice for truth, and righteousness, and God,-
But all too feebly,-has been lifted up
For more than twenty years, but now shall soon
Be lifted up no more. I chose this spot,
And marked it for my grave, that, when my dust
Shall be united to its kindred dust,
They who have loved me,-should there any such
E'er stand beside it and let fall a tear,-
May see the temple where I toiled so long,
And toiled, I fear, in vain. No, not in vain
For all who 've come to offer, in that house,
Their weekly sacrifice of praise and prayer!
For there are some, I humbly hope and trust,
To whom my voice, in harmony with truth,
Hath helped to make that house 'the gate of heaven.'
May there be many such! But, O my grave,
When my cold dust is sleeping here, in thee,
The question that shall most concern the spirit
That shall have left that dust, and gone to give
Its dread account in, at the bar of God,
Will not be, 'What success hath crowned thy labors?'
But, 'With what faithfulness were they performed?'

Here, as I muse beside my last, low bed,
I think upon my answer.

'Lord, thou knowest!
Man never knew me as thou knowest me.
I never could reveal myself to man.
For neither had I, while I lived, the power,
To those who were the nearest to my heart
To lay that heart all open, as it was,
And as thou, Lord, hast seen it. Nor could they,
Had every inmost feeling of my soul
By seraphs' lips been uttered, e'er have had
The ear to hear it, or the soul to feel.
The world has seen the surface only of me:-
Not that I've striven to hide myself from men:-
No, I have rather labored to be known:-
But, when I would have spoken of my faith,
My cómmunings with thee, my heaven-ward hope,
My love for thee and all that thou hast made,
The perfect peace in which I looked on all
Thy works of glorious beauty,-then it seemed
That thou alone couldst understand me, Lord,
And so my lips were sealed;-or the world's phrase,
The courteous question or the frank reply,
Alone escaped them. I have ne'er been known,
My Father, but by thee: and I rejoice
That thou, who mad'st me, art to be my Judge;
For, in thy judgments, thou rememberest mercy.
I cast myself upon them. Like thy laws,
They are all true and right. The law, that keeps
This planet in her path around the sun,
Keeps all her sister planets, too, in theirs,
And all the other shining hosts of heaven.
All worlds, all times, are under that one law;
For what binds one, binds all. So all thy sons
And daughters, clothed in light,-hosts brighter far
Than suns and planets,-spiritual hosts,
Whose glory is their goodness,-have one law,
The perfect law of love, to guide them through
All worlds, all times. Thy Kingdom, Lord, is one.
Life, death, earth, heaven, eternity, and time
Lie all within it; and what blesses now
Must ever bless,-Love of things true and right.

'Father, thou knowest whether, when thou saidst
'Go, feed my sheep,' I fed them with things true,
And that, because I loved thy truth and them;
Or whether I kept back from them thy truth,
And doled out falsehood, spiced with flattery,
Because they loved and asked it; and because
Not for the flock I cared, but for the fleece.

''Lord, thou hast searched and known me,' and to thee,
With humble but unfaltering confidence,
With faith that triumphed o'er the fear of death,
And o'er its pains,-at thy most welcome call
My spirit now hath come, with thine to dwell,
And be for ever, as it long hath been,
At one with thee. Father, I ask thee not
To make me ruler over many things,
If, in a few, thou mayst have seen me faithful.
To be at one with thee is all I ask;
'T is all the heaven my spirit can enjoy;
'T is all I've prayed for, or can ever pray;-
Let me, beneath the covert of thy wing,
Henceforth be shielded from the shafts, that pierced
My spirit while I served thee in the flesh,-
The arrows that were tipped with fire, and winged
By men who knew me not, and could not know.
'Father, forgive them!' for they thought the world
Was made for Mammon's throne; and that the man
Who, at their call, stood up within thy courts
To speak of things belonging to their peace,
Must make the Gospel pliant to the form
Of 'the law merchant';-that the Prophet's roll,
The Apostle's girdle, and the Saviour's vesture
Must all be shaped to fit their golden god,
Or else, as worthless shreds, be thrown aside.
Forgive them, Father, for they did not know
'The glorious Gospel of the blessed God.'
Thou mad'st it mine to preach that Gospel to them.
Thou knowest whether faithfully I preached,
And whether faithfully they heard, or not.
Thou knowest all my weaknesses and theirs.
Judge thou between us; but, in judgment, Lord,
Remember mercy both to them and me!'

My grave, I'm ready for thee. I would fain,
Were it my Father's will, put by the cup,
The bitter cup, of sharp or chronic pain,
Or wasting sickness,-for that bitter cup
The hand of God's most holy providence
Hath oft commended to my feverish lips;
And deep, already, have I drunk of it.
Fain would I, if I might, be spared the scene
Of wife and children round my dying bed,
Kneeling in prayer, or to my last poor words
Bending with tearful eyes. And I would fain
Banish the thought of shroud, of coffin-lid,
Of cold hands folded on my breast, and of the chill
That will strike through the frame of all who touch
My marble forehead. I would banish, too,
The thought, that I shall hear the funeral prayer,
And see the funeral train when my remains
Are hither borne. And I would gladly drive,
Far and for ever from my heart, the thought,
That, when the widow and the fatherless
Return to their lone dwelling, they'll be left
To the world's charity, and all its trials,-
(Almighty God! they will be left to thee.)
But, when all this is over, and the dust
Hath with the dust commingled, as it was,
And when the spirit hath returned to Him
Who gave it, and who guarded it while here,
And entered there into its heavenly rest,
As it will enter;-and when on thy turf,
My grave, the sun shall pour his mellow light,
And the stars drop their dew, and the full moon
Look down serenely, and the summer birds
Shall sing among the branches that o'erhang
The stone that bears my name, to tell whose grave
Thou art;-O then I shall no longer feel,
As I now feel, tired, tired, and sick at heart,
And, by my very weariness, impelled
To look with longing toward thee, and to stand,
As now I do stand over thee, and say,
'I'm ready to lie down in thee, my grave!' 

John Pierpont's other poems:
  1. For the Album of Miss Caroline C---
  2. Her Chosen Spot
  3. Temperance Song
  4. Christian's Duty to Attempt the Salvation of Drunkards
  5. Come Sign the Vow!

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