Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Roger Williams

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Providence, R. I.

Roger Williams

By Sarah Helen Whitman (1803–1878)


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 veiléd 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.