O, if there is one law above the rest,
Written in wisdom—if there is a word
That I coould [sic] trace as with a pen of fire
Upon the unsullied temper of a child—
If there is anything that keeps the mind
Open to Angel’s visits. And repels
The ministry of ill—‘tis human love!
God has made nothing worthy of contempt;
The smallest pebble in the well of truth
Has its peculiar meanings. And will stand
When man’s best monuments wear fast away.
The law of heaven is love. And though its name
Has been usurped by passion and profaned
To its unholy uses through all time.
Still the external principle is pure;
And in those deep affections that we feel
Omnipotent within us, can we see
The lavish measure in which love is given.
And in the yearning tenderness of a child;
For every bird that sings above its head,
And every creature feeding on the hills.
And every bee and flower. And running brook.
We see how everything was made to love.
And how they err who in a world like this,
Find anything to hate but human pride.
For Mrs. A. M. Cassey.
Selected by her affectionate Fr.
D. C. S.
Although D. C. S. transcribed the following excerpt from a poem by N. P. Willis, this contribution to the Cassey album features an original title “Human Love.” The poem was published numerous times between the 1830s and 1850s, under the titles of “Love” and “Beautiful Extract,” often without authorial attribution. Like friendship, “human love values human emotions over intellectual faculties, and emphasizes the universality of the emotion. Although human love is esteemed “above the rest,” the emotion also serves to connect humans with the natural world: not only the bird or the bee, but even the inanimate running brook is “made to love.”
Page 59: Selected from a poem by Nathaniel Parker Willis that he delivered at Brown University on September 6, 1831. A portion of the poem was printed earlier that year in The Philadelphia Album and Ladies Literary Portfolio (January 1831).