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October 06, 2007

Waldensian Wisdom

The Vaudois Teacher

“O Lady fair, these silks of mine are beautiful and rare,__
The richest web of the Indian loom, which beauty’s queen might wear;
And my pearls are pure as thy own fair neck, with whose radiant light they vie;
I have brought them with me a weary way, __ will my gentle lady buy?”

The lady smiled on the worn old man through the dark and clustering curls
Which veiled her brow, as she bent to view his silks and glittering pearls;
And she placed their price in the old man’s hand and lightly turned away,
But she paused at the wanderer’s earnest call, __ “My gentle lady, stay!

“O Lady fair, I have yet a gem which a purer luster flings,
Than the diamond flash of the jeweled crown on the lofty brow of kings:
A wonderful pearl of exceeding price, whose virtue shall not decay,
Whose light shall be as a spell to thee and a blessing on thy way!”

The lady glanced at the mirroring steel where her form of grace was seen,
Where her eye shone clear, and her dark looks waved their clasping pearls between;
“Bring forth thy pearl of exceeding worth, thou traveller gray and old,
And name the price of thy precious gem, and my page shall count thy gold.”

The cloud went off from the pilgrim’s brow, as a small and meager book,
Unchased with gold or gem of cost, from his folding robe he took!
“Here, lady fair, is the pearl of price, may it prove as such to thee!
Nay, keep thy gold __ I ask it not, for the word of God is free!”

The hoary traveler went his way, but the gift he left behind
Hath had its pure and perfect work on that highborn maiden’s mind,
And she hath turned from the pride of sin to the lowliness of truth,
And given her heart to God in its beautiful hour of youth!

And she hath left the gray old halls, where an evil faith had power,
The courtly knights of her fathers train, and the maidens of her bower;
And she hath gone to the Vaudois vales by lordly feet untrod,
Where the poor and needy of earth are rich in the perfect love of God!

--John Greenleaf Whittier

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