Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  To the Weathercock on Our Steeple

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

New England: Providence, R. I.

To the Weathercock on Our Steeple

By Albert G. Greene (1802–1868)

THE DAWN has broke, the morn is up,

Another day begun;

And there thy poised and gilded spear

Is flashing in the sun,

Upon that steep and lofty tower

Where thou thy watch hast kept,

A true and faithful sentinel,

While all around thee slept.

For years, upon thee, there has poured

The summer’s noonday heat,

And through the long, dark, starless night

The winter storms have beat;

But yet thy duty has been done,

By day and night the same,

Still thou hast met and faced the storm,

Whichever way it came.

No chilling blast in wrath has swept

Along the distant heaven,

But thou hast watched its onward course,

And distant warning given;

And, when midsummer’s sultry beams

Oppress all living things,

Thou dost foretell each breeze that comes

With health upon its wings.

How oft I ’ve seen, at early dawn,

Or twilight’s quiet hour,

The swallows, in their joyous glee,

Come darting round their tower,

As if, with thee, to hail the sun

And catch his earliest light,

And offer ye the morn’s salute,

Or bid ye both good night.

And when, around thee or above,

No breath of air has stirred,

Thou seem’st to watch the circling flight

Of each free, happy bird,

Till, after twittering round thy head

In many a mazy track,

The whole delighted company

Have settled on thy back.

Then, if, perchance, amidst their mirth,

A gentle breeze has sprung,

And, prompt to mark its first approach,

Thy eager form hath swung,

I ’ve thought I almost heard thee say,

As far aloft they flew,—

“Now all away! here ends our play,

For I have work to do!”

Men slander thee, my honest friend,

And call thee, in their pride,

An emblem of their fickleness,

Thou ever-faithful guide.

Each weak, unstable human mind

A “weathercock” they call;

And thus, unthinkingly, mankind

Abuse thee, one and all.

They have no right to make thy name

A byword for their deeds:

They change their friends, their principles,

Their fashions, and their creeds;

Whilst thou hast ne’er, like them, been known

Thus causelessly to range;

But when thou changest sides, canst give

Good reason for the change.

Thou, like some lofty soul, whose course

The thoughtless oft condemn,

Art touched by many airs from heaven

Which never breathe on them,—

And moved by many impulses

Which they do never know,

Who, round their earth-bound circles, plod

The dusty paths below.

Through one more dark and cheerless night

Thou well hast kept thy trust,

And now in glory o’er thy head

The morning light has burst.

And unto earth’s true watcher, thus,

When his dark hours have passed,

Will come “the day-spring from on high,”

To cheer his path at last.

Bright symbol of fidelity,

Still may I think of thee;

And may the lesson thou dost teach

Be never lost on me;

But still, in sunshine or in storm,

Whatever task is mine,

May I be faithful to my trust,

As thou hast been to thine.