James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Sonnet-Ii - Poem by James Russell Lowell

What were I, Love, if I were stripped of thee,
If thine eyes shut me out whereby I live.
Thou, who unto my calmer soul dost give
Knowledge, and Truth, and holy Mystery,
Wherein Truth mainly lies for those who see
Beyond the earthly and the fugitive,
Who in the grandeur of the soul believe,
And only in the Infinite are free?
Without thee I were naked, bleak, and bare
As yon dead cedar on the sea-cliff's brow;
And Nature's teachings, which come to me now,
Common and beautiful as light and air,
Would be as fruitless as a stream which still
Slips through the wheel of some old ruined mill.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012



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