1818–1878

Introduction

Born: Oc­to­ber 26, 1818, Port­land, Maine.

Died: Au­gust 13, 1878, Dor­set, Ver­mont.

Buried: Ma­ple Hill Ce­me­te­ry, Dor­set, Ver­mont.

portrait

Biography

Elizabeth was the daugh­ter of Dr. Ed­ward Pay­son, and wife of George Lew­is Pren­tiss (who lat­er be­came Pro­fess­or of The­o­lo­gy at Un­ion Se­mi­na­ry in New York Ci­ty) (mar­ried 1845).

Publications

Poem

The Battle of Life

The wintry storm was raging loud without,
And to and fro,
The angry winds flung carelessly about,
The falling snow.

Luxuriously before the ruddy fire
I sat at ease,
The only object of my heart’s desire
Myself to please.

A voice aroused me from my idle dreams;
“Rise, rise, My child!
Shake thyself loose from these unfruitful schemes,
These fancies wild.

Come forth with Me, and buffet wind and storm
And icy cold;
Come as thou art, nor stay thy shrinking form
Thus to enfold!

It was the Master’s voice. I could but yield
To its behest,
While dread repugnance lay but ill concealed
Within my breast.

Behind me closed my sheltering door; I faced
The tempest rude;
Wild, save winds my shrinking form embraced
While thus I stood

Upon the threshold, casting longing eyes
Back to my home,
Reluctant from my childhood’s paradise
Enforced to roam.

Then plunging onward towards th’appointed way,
I madly went,
And night and day, yea, many a night and day,
My figure bent

Beneath the blast. Assailed with shudderings dire,
My fears oppressed,
Despairing, hopeless; stripped of all desire,
I onward pressed.

Until I heard above the thunder’s roll
The Master’s voice
Arise once more. It cried, “O faithless soul,
Behold thy choice!

“A life-long childhood, basking idly on
The lap of ease,
Or manhood’s strength by long endurance won
In toils like these.

Whether to gird thyself to walk with Me
Mid conflicts dread,
Or back effeminate to ease to flee—
Living—yet dead.

Already by my labors stronger grown,
I stood and cried:
“Master and Lord! with Thee, with Thee alone,
Let me abide.

Let me but know I buffet wind and storm,
With Thee, with Thee!
Upon my path Thine own divinest form
But let me see!

Thus in the hour of battle choice was made!
Choice of unrest!
Thus Christian manhood seeking, undismayed
The storm I breast.

No leisure now, no dreams, no idle time;
I wrestle on;
Beat, icy winds, oppose, oh adverse clime,
Till victory’s won.

For I shall win! I shall come forth at last,
Not lost, but found!
A Christian warrior whom each stormy blast
Hath victor crowned!

Elizabeth Payson Prentiss
Religious Poems, 1873

Sources

Lyrics