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Sarah Orne Jewett


A sleeping giant in his cloak of grass --
   The strong great hill that lifts against the sky;
And nothing wakes him, even when we climb
   Far up with careless footsteps, you and I.
Though God's life is the life that moves the world,
   Our lives are still our own to hold and guide;
And though all nature lives to show us God,
   Yet in it heart* and consciousness abide.
I more and more its faithful friendship know.
And so, when restless and adrift, I keep
    Great comfort in a quietness like this; --
An awful strength that lies in fearless sleep;
   On this great shoulder lay my head, nor miss
The things I longed for but an hour ago.


It sometimes happens that two friends will meet
   And with a smile and touch of hands, again
Go on their way along the noisy street:
Each is so sure of all the friendship sweet,
   The loving silence gives no thought of pain.
And so, I think, those friends whom we call dead
   Are with us. It may be some quiet hour
Or time of busy work for hand or head --
Their love fills all the heart that missed them so;
   They bring a sweet assurance of the life
Serene, above the worry that we know;
   And we grow braver for the comfort brought.
Why should we mourn because they do not speak
   Our words that lie so far below their thought?

Sarah O. Jewett


"Verses" appeared in Sunday Afternoon 1 (January - June 1878): 564.

heart:  In a manuscript copy of Sonnet I, held by the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in the  Governor William and Mary Claflin Papers,  GA-9, Box 4, Miscellaneous Folder J, Jewett varies this line: Yet in it soul and consciousness abide.

    Two other differences in Sonnet I wording appear in a transcription from the William Claflin Papers included in transcriptions from mixed repositories in the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, Folder 73, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection.

    Line 3: And nothing awakes him, even when we climb
    Line 9: I more and more its faithful friendships know.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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