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John Greenleaf Whittier


The threads our hands in blindness spin

No self-determined plan weaves in;

The shuttle of the unseen powers

Works out a pattern not as ours.

Ah! small the choice of him who sings

What sound shall leave the smitten strings;

Fate holds and guides the hand of art;

The singer's is the servant's part.

The wind-harp chooses not the tone

That through its trembling threads is blown;

The patient organ cannot guess

What hand its passive keys shall press.

Through wish, resolve, and act, our will

Is moved by undreamed forces still;

And no man measures in advance

His strength with untried circumstance.

As streams take hue from shade and sun,

As runs the life the song must run;

But, glad or sad, to His good end

God grant the varying notes may tend!