'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
lustre flings,
Than the diamond flash of the jewelled 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 locks
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 meagre 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 traveller went his way, but the gift he
left behind
Hath had its pure and perfect work on that high-
born maiden's mind,
And she hath turned from the pride of sin to the
lowliness of truth,
And given her human 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 father's 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!

More verses by John Greenleaf Whittier

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