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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 – 1892) was one of the “Fireside Poets,” called such because their work was popular enough to be read (ostensibly by the fire) in homes all over America. And Whittier was one of those rare poets who actually made a rather comfortable living from the proceeds of his work. Born into a Massachusetts farm family, Whittier was introduced to poetry by one of his school teachers. An avid reader and writer early on, Whittier spent much of his working life as an editor, though he had political aspirations as well. He was a staunch abolitionist, and produced two collections of anti-slavery poems, along with an anti-slavery pamphlet that managed to incur the wrath of
This beautiful poem has been my favorite in times of stress and sorrow for many years. It is my prayer that it will encourage and inspire you to keep keepin’ on, as it does for me.
So sister, when you want to smile, but instead you have to sigh, rest if you must sweet sister, but don’t quit.
John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit