"The Indian Summer Of The Heart!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Among Whittier's Poems Subjective and Reminiscent appears his "Memories," with its nine stanzas. After several years of academic training, during which he submitted poems to the Haverhill (Mass.) Gazette, in 1829 he became editor of a Boston magazine, American Manufacturer, in which he published both his prose and his poetry. The poems were collected into a volume in 1857. In "Memories," Whittier thinks back, in later years, to a "Beautiful and happy girl" with whom as a child he used to talk and walk. Whittier's biographer says the poem was written in 1841, when the poet was thirty-four years old, and certainly not in the autumn of his life. Indian Summer is said to come in the fall, after the first frost. Whittier is supposed to have hesitated to publish the poem "because it was so personal and near my heart." Most poets think that that is the stuff of which good poetry is made. The final stanza declares:

Thus, while at times before our eyes
The shadows melt, and fall apart,
And, smiling through them, round us lies
The warm light of our morning skies,–
The Indian Summer of the heart!
In secret sympathies of mind,
In founts of feeling which retain
Their pure, fresh flow, we yet may find
Our early dreams not wholly vain!