Clement Clark Moore's Poetry
Clement Clark Moore
Brought to you by the website of Henry Livingston, the author of A Visit From St. Nicholas



"Died on Thursday last, at Hospital No. 3, Sister Mary Frances, one of those Angels in human form, who are found, not in the abode of luxury, but in all our hospitals, supplying the wants of, and ministering comfort and consolation to, the sick and the dying, regardless of personal danger, and rejecting all temporal compensation.

"The deceased was found in the morning attending as usual to the patients in the hospital, with the smile of peace and serenity on her countenance, she sickened about 8 o'clock, and by 7 in the evening was a corpse."


Ye sacred Sisters; not for you, this strain:
You heed no minstrelsy of earth-strung lyre;
The softest siren notes would sound in vain
To ears impatient for the heavenly choir.
But who that toils through life's rough devious way,
If some fair prospect open on his sight,
Seeks not his fellow wanderer's steps to stay,
And make them partners in his own delight?
Turn then, all ye who, with indignant mind,
Behold the vileness of this mortal state;
Where craft and guile on ev'ry hand you find,
With all the forms of selfishness and hate;
Here let your misanthropic brow unbend,
And warmest feelings of the heart expand;
For, if to earth some gleams of Heaven descend,
They sure must light upon this sacred band.
And ye who sport beneath the golden beams
That o'er youth's jocund morning shed their light;
To whom the downward path of life still seems
Immeasurably distant from the sight;
Oh! think me not a censor cold and stern,
A frowning foe to all that's bright and gay,
If, for a moment, I would have you turn,
And see these Sisters tread their holy way.
I would not bid fierce superstition's power
Bear down your minds, in sullen gloom to grope:
I would not overcloud one radiant hour,
Nor crush one rising bud of youthful hope:
But stay awhile, nor all your moments waste
For joys inconstant as the vernal sky.
You here may deep, though silent pleasure taste,
Whose impress on the soul shall never die.
For how can earth present a goodlier scene,
Or what can waken rapture more refin'd,
Than dauntless courage, silent and serene,
With maiden gentleness and love combin'd?
Behold in yon receptacle of wo,
Where victims of disease assembled lie,
That gliding form, with noiseless footstep go,
From couch to couch, her angel task to ply.
She dwells 'mid sounds and sights of pain and death;
The feeble plaint, the involuntary cry,
The fierce convulsive throw, the fainting breath,
The heaving groan, the deep-drawn burning sigh.
Oh! child of frolic, in whose giddy brain
Delusive Fancy's ever on the wing,
Think you this holy maid knows naught but pain?
That in her path no lovely flowrets spring?
Gay visions round your pillow nightly throng;
The morning ramble and the evening dance,
The rout, the feast, the soul-entrancing song,
The flatterer's whisper, and the lover's glance.
Around her couch, no brilliant phantoms play;
No airy spectre of past pleasure flies:
But deeds of mercy which have mark'd the day
Give tranquil slumber to her tear-stain'd eyes.
They're precious gems, those tears that wet her cheek;
Worth more than all the treasures earth can show.
The noblest language of the heart they speak;
From high and holy ecstacy they flow.
Her feelings ye alone can understand
Whose deeds have wak'd the sufferer's grateful prayer;
Who've felt the pressure of the dying hand;
Sweet recompense of all your pious care.
No sad nor strange reverse her pleasures dread;
Of time and chance, they mock the strong control.
Her Heaven-aspiring virtues ever shed
A cloudless light upon her peaceful soul.
The baubles that command this world's esteem
No resting place within her mind can gain:
Like idle motes that cross the solar beam
They serve to make her spirit's course more plain.
Yes! such this sacred band; such peace is theirs;
Unchang'd when days shine bright or tempests lower.
Through life they pass, untainted by its cares;
When death draws near, they gladly hail his power.
And then, like birds that seek a better clime,
On swift untiring wing their spirits rise,
And gladly leave this turbid stream of time,
To take their homeward progress through the skies.


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