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In Memory of Susanna Martin

A Harvest Idyl
by John Greenleaf Whittier

For Susanna Martin

I call the old time back: I bring my lay
in tender memory of the summer day

When, where our native river lapsed away,

We dreamed it over, while the thrushes made
Songs of their own, and the great pine-trees laid

On warm noonlights the masses of their shade.

And she was with us, living o’er again
Her life in ours, despite of years and pain,–

The Autumn’s brightness after latter rain.

Beautiful in her holy peace as one
Who stands, at evening, when the work is done,

Glorified in the setting of the sun!

Her memory makes our common landscape seem
Fairer than any of which painters dream;

Lights the brown hills and sings in every stream;

For she whose speech was always truth’s pure gold
Heard, not unpleased, its simple legends told,

And loved with us the beautiful and old.

Susanna Martin was an elderly woman of Amesbury, Mass., who was tried and executed on July 19, 1692 for the alleged crime of Witchcraft. Her home was in what is now known as Pleasant Valley on the Merrimac River, a little above the old Ferry way. Goody Martin was the only woman hanged on the north side of the Merrimac during America’s Burning Times.

The full text of the poem from which this was taken was published under the name of The Witch’s Daughter, in The National Era in 1857.

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