From the recording Dearest Home
Text, John Greenleaf Whittier, Setting, W. O. Perkins, 1862. Public Domain
WE WAIT BENEATH THE FURNACE BLAST, John Greenleaf Whittier / W. O. Perkins
We wait beneath the furnace blast the pangs of transformation:
Not painlessly does God recast and mould anew the nation.
Hot burns the fire where wrongs expire, nor spares the hand that from the land
Uproot the ancient evil.
The hand-breadth cloud the sages fear’d its bloody rain is dropping;
The poison plant the fathers spared all else is overtopping.
East, West, South, North, It curses earth; all justice dies, and fraud and lies
Live only in its shadow.
What gives the wheat-field blades of steel! What points the rebel cannon!
What sets the roaring rabble’s heel on the old star-spangled pennon!
What breaks the oath of the men of the South! What whets the knife for the union’s life!
Hark to the answer, SLAVERY!
5. What though the cast out spirit tear the nation in his going!
We who have shared the guilt must share the pangs of his o’er-throwing!
Whate’er the loss, whate’er the cross, shall they complain of present pain who trust in God’s hereafter!
7. Above the maddening cry for blood, above the wild war-drumming,
Let Freedom’s voice be heard, with good the evil overcoming.
Give prayer and purse to stay the Curse whose wrong we share, whose shame we bear,
Whose end shall gladden Heaven!
9. Then let the selfish lip be dumb and hushed the breath of sighing;
Before the joy of peace, must come the pains of purifying.
God give us grace each in his place to bear his lot, and murmur’ng not, endure and wait and labor!