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JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER

John Greenleaf Whittier was born on a farm in Haverhill (pronounced Hāv'er il), Massachusetts. The house was in a nest among the hills. The largest room was the kitchen, which was warmed 5 by a fireplace that took up nearly the whole of one side. When Whittier was small he went barefoot in summer time, fed the cows and the oxen, and did other work on the farm. He loved the beautiful hills. He knew all about the birds 10 and the wild-flowers, and the places where the

nuts and the wild grapes ripened first. He knew where the muskrats lived and he hunted woodchuck holes.

In those days the country schools lasted for only 15 about three months every year, so that Whittier

had little education in schools. But he read all the books he could get and read the Bible over and over. Always he kept reading good books,

especially poetry, and soon he was writing both 20 prose and poetry himself. Whittier was a Quaker,

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and in his talk and letters used thee and thy instead of you and your.

When he was twenty-nine he left the old farm, and with his mother and sister Elizabeth settled 6 down in the pleasant village of Amesbury, not far away. This was his home for the rest of his life. He was never strong. He lived an extremely quiet life. His best friend was his younger sister, Elizabeth, who resembled him in 10 many ways.

We think of Whittier as the poet of the country life in New England. In “Snow Bound” he tells us how, when he was a boy, a great storm piled

the drifts so high that he and his brother had to 15 dig a tunnel to open the way to the barn.

5. The Barefoot Boy,” on page 119, tells about Whittier's out-of-door pleasures when he was young, and a poem

called “In School Days” is about a country school. In a beautiful poem named “ Telling the 20 Bees,” he described the beehives on his father's

farm, and in another, called “The River Path,” he shows his love for the hills.

Whittier died in 1892, in his eighty-fifth year.

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Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan !
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace :
From my heart I give thee joy, —
I was once a barefoot boy !

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O, for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well:
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung:
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow.
For eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks.
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, –
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

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O for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,

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