Saturday, November 17, 2012

Classic Poetry ~ "Forgiveness" by John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1809 - 1894

John Greenleaf Whittier, known as The Quaker Poet, The Slave Poet and The Fireside Poet, wrote from the time he was a child until he died at 85. A Quaker devoted to social causes and reform, Whittier worked for years as an editor and writer at a series of abolitionist newspapers and magazines. Additionally, he was a politician and abolitionist, opposing slavery before it became the divisive subject that resulted in civil war. Most famous for lengthy works, such as the oft-referred-to poem, Snowbound, Whittier occasionally wrote shorter pieces like Forgiveness, below.


My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

After reading this anew, I cannot help but hope that each of us experiences the same epiphany.  ~Kim


  1. This poem transcends religion and embraces all humanity.

  2. Wow. How beautiful. It does transcend religion because deeper than religion, deeper than theology, deeper than all abstracts lives each of us!
    Superb -- thanx for the Intro, Kim!

  3. Great poem! Like Sabio^ says, so deep!

  4. A wonderful perspective he came to embrace. It's true, when we come down to the last breath, all men are equalized--best to forgive. Thanks, Kim.

  5. Kim, I LOVE this and, especially, your comment after:)Yes, we could all use a good epiphany or two.

  6. It's a sonnet?! I have collected Whittier on my poetry shelves--the real wooden ones. Sometimes his classical elements irk me (regular rhyme and meter), but never his content. I often have trouble forgiving, and this poem reminds me what is at stake.

  7. What an excellent poem to share at this season of the year. I believe forgiveness is more for the one doing the forgiving than anyone else!

  8. Oh wow. This is beautiful and very very wise!!!! Thank you! Take care

  9. I love the ending! So beautiful, to end on that note!
    Thanks Kim :D


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