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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was an American poet, abolitionist, and Quaker.


"Art's perfect forms no moral need,
And beauty is its own excuse;
But for the dull and flowerless weed
Some healing virtue still must plead,
And the rough ore must find its honors in its use.

So haply these, my simple lays
Of homely toil, may serve to show
The orchard bloom and tasselled maize
That skirt and gladden duty's ways,
The unsung beauty hid life's common things below!

Haply from them the toiler, bent
Above his forge or plough, may gain
A manlier spirit of content,
And feel that life is wisest spent
Where the strong working hand makes strong the working brain:—

The doom which to the guilty pair
Without the walls of Eden came,
Transforming sinless ease to care
And rugged toil, no more shall bear
The burden of old crime, or mark of primal shame.

A blessing now—a curse no more;
Since He, whose name we breathe with awe,
The coarse mechanic vesture wore,—
A poor man toiling with the poor,
In labor, as in prayer, fulfilling the same law."

—Dedication to John G. Whittier's Songs of Labor, and Other Poems (Boston 1850)


The Corn Song
The Poor Voter on Election Day
The Ship-Builders
Song of the Fishermen
Song of the Lumbermen
Song of the Shoemakers


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