The Word


This poem was written in 1865, shortly after the Civil War, published in her biography, Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), which earned Laura E. Richards and Maud Howe Elliott the Pulitzer Prize in 1917.
Had I one of thy words, my Master,
With a spirit and tone of thine,
I would run to the farthest Indies
To scatter the joy divine.

I would waken the frozen ocean
With a billowy burst of joy:
Stir the ships at their grim ice-moorings
The summer passes by.

I would enter court and hovel,
Forgetful of mien or dress,
With a treasure that all should ask for,
An errand that all should bless.

I seek for thy words, my Master,
With a spelling vexed and slow:
With scanty illuminations
In an alphabet of woe.

But while I am searching, scanning
A lesson none ask to hear,
My life writeth out thy sentence
Divinely just and dear.

You may also enjoy reading the works of Howe's daughter, Laura E. Richards.


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