Mountain Pictures and Others

The Pressed Gentian


John Greenleaf Whittier

THE TIME of gifts has come again,
    And, on my northern window-pane,
Outlined against the day’s brief light,
    A Christmas token hangs in sight.

The wayside travellers, as they pass,
    Mark the gray disk of clouded glass;
And the dull blankness seems, perchance,
    Folly to their wise ignorance.

They cannot from their outlook see
    The perfect grace it hath for me;
For there the flower, whose fringes through
    The frosty breath of autumn blew,
Turns from without its face of bloom
    To the warm tropic of my room,
As fair as when beside its brook
    The hue of bending skies it took.

So from the trodden ways of earth,
    Seem some sweet souls who veil their worth,
And offer to the careless glance
    The clouding gray of circumstance.
They blossom best where hearth-fires burn,
    To loving eyes alone they turn
The flowers of inward grace, that hide
    Their beauty from the world outside.

But deeper meanings come to me,
    My half-immortal flower, from thee!
Man judges from a partial view,
    None ever yet his brother knew;
The Eternal Eye that sees the whole
    May better read the darkened soul,
And find, to outward sense denied,
    The flower upon its inmost side

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