Quakers in fiction and poetry
On this page we will present fiction that talks about Quakers.
This is a draft and will gradually be
tidied up and developed.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
The most famous example is 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (Quakers
helping a negro slave to escape).
During the time of slavery, the Quakers who had settled in
America saw it as their duty to help slaves who were trying to escape.
One such family is described in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel 'Uncle
Other literary works dealing with Quakers
|Newman, Daisy: "Diligence in Love, A novel about
Quakers and a restless advertising woman". Doubleday and Co, New York,
|Jessamyn West: "Friendly Persuasion". A compelling
novel about Quakers and one family's response to the Civil War. First
published in 1945 by Harvest Books.
Synopsis: The story of an Indiana Quaker family faces
war, challenging their religious beliefs, the temptations they face and
their reactions, and the strength they find in themselves, their family
and their community in times of crisis. The time frame is before the
Civil War – but it could be today in reference to the times of strife
and challenges we all face currently and where we find our inner
profile: click here:
|Judith Moffett: "Pennterra". 1987. Sounds like science
Amazon customer review:
There is quite a bit of information about the Society of Friends
(Quakers) out there, but none as in a more unlikely location as Judith
Moffetts "Penterra". The information she provides about the Quakers
stand on non violence, sexual mores and dealing with an entirely
different lifestyle are fascinating. The book moves quickly along the
lives of George Quinlan, his son Danny, the Hrossa who are allowing the
Quakers to set up their colony " Swarthmore" and the new group on the
planet "The Sixers". (named for the ship they arrived in on Pennterra)
Danny reaching puberty is handled well, although I
blushed at some of the more "graphic" parts of this section, and Im no
prude! That Danny becomes a integral part of the next step in the
Quaker/Hrossa world is only fitting to the process.
(end of customer review)
|Pathways to the light within: a gathering of early
Published by Friends United Press (January 1979)
|Charles Foulke, 24 Jan 1773 - 16 Mar 1773
He was the author of a number of books and papers of
historic and literary
value, among them are "Quaker Poems, a Collection of Verse Relating to
Society of Friends," 1893
A poem about John Woolman (1720-1772)
THE QUAKER OF THE OLDEN TIME
(Written in appreciation of John Woolman)
The Quaker of the olden time!
How calm and firm and true,
Unspotted by its wrong and crime,
He walked the dark earth through.
The lust of power, the love of gain,
The thousand lures of sin
Around him, had no power to stain
The purity within.
With that deep insight which detects
All great things in the small,
And knows how each man's life affects
The spiritual life of all,
He walked by faith and not by sight,
By love and not by law;
The presence of the wrong or right
He rather felt than saw.
He felt that wrong with wrong partakes,
That nothing stands alone,
That whoso gives the motive, makes
His brother's sin his own.
And pausing, not for doubtful choice
Of evils great or small,
He listened to that Inward Voice
Which called away from all.
O Spirit of that early day,
So pure and strong and true,
Be with us in the narrow way
Our faithful fathers knew.
Give strength the evil to forsake,
The cross of Truth to bear,
And love and reverent fear to make
Our daily lives a prayer.
John Greenleaf Whittier
A note about Quaker poet John
Whittier was once considered a national treasure; his birthday
was a holiday in many states, and his verse memorized by schoolchildren.
Whittier's poetry is out of fashion today, but many of his
poems on Quaker themes can still be read with pleasure and value,
especially by Friends or those interested in Quaker faith and history.
That's why this selection of his poetry is being posted here.
A brief autobiography
and links to more of
his Quaker poems can be found here.
The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket
by Robert Lowell
Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the
fowls of the air
and the beasts and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that
moveth upon the earth.
A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket,-
The sea was still breaking violently and night
Had steamed into our north Atlantic Fleet,
when the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,
He grappled at the net
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs;
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of red and whites,
It's open, starring eyes
Were lusterless dead-lights
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk
Heavy with sand. we weight the body, close
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks at its nose
On Ahab's void and forehead; and the name
Is blocked in yellow chalk.
Sailors, who pitch this at the portent at the sea
Where dreadnoughts shall confess
It's hell-bent deity
When you are powerless
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste
In his steel scales; ask for no Orphean lute
To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet
Recoiled and then repeat
The hoarse salute
Whenever winds are moving and their breath
Heaved at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,
Then terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death
In these waters. Sailor, can you hear
The Pequod's sea wings, beating landward, fall
Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall
Off 'Sconset, where the yawing S-boats-splash
The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,
As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears
The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash
The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids
For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids
Seaward. The winds' wings beat upon the stones,
Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush
At the sea's throat and wring it in the slush
Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones
Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast
Bobbing by Ahab's whaleboats in the East.
All you recovered from Poseidon died
With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine
Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,
Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,
Nantucket's westward haven. To Cape Cod
Guns, cradled on the tide,
Blast, the eelgrass about a waterclock
Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and the sand
Lashing earth's scaffold, rock
Our warships in the hand
Of the great God, where time's contrition blues
Whatever it was these Quaker sailor's lost
In the mad scramble of their lives. They died
When time was open-eyed,
Wooden and childish; only bones abide
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news
Of IS, the whited monster. what it cost
Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale's slick
I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:
"If God himself had not been by our side,
If God himself had not been on our side,
When the Atlantic rose against us, why,
Then it had swallowed us up quick."
This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale
Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell
And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools
To send the Pequod packing off to hell:
This is the end of them, three quarters fools,
Snatching at straws to sail
Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,
Spouting out blood and water as it rolls
Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals:
Clamavimus, O depths. Let the sea-gulls wail
For water, for the deep where the high tide
Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.
Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,
Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,
The beach increasing, its enormous snout
Sucking the ocean's side.
This is the end of running on the waves;
We are poured out like water. who will dance
The mast-lashed master of Leviathans
Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves?
When the whales viscera go and the roll
Of its corruption overruns this world
Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Wood's Hole
whistle and fall and sink into the fat?
In the great ash-pit of Jehoshapat
The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,
The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,
The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears
The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail,
And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags
And rips the sperm-whale's midriff into rags,
Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,
Sailor and gulls go round the stoven timbers
Where the morning stars sing out together
And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers
The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide
Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side.
Our Lady of Walsingham
There once the penitents took off their shoes
and then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree,
Shiloah's whirlpools gurgle and make you glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:
Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There's no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque décor
Expressionless expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary's Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.
The empty winds are creaking and the oak
Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,
The boughs are trembling and a gaff
Bobs on the untimely stroke
Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell
In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It's well;
Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,
Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:
Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh
Mart once of supercilious, winged clippers,
Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil
You could cut the brackish winds with a knife
Here in Nantucket and cast up the time
When the Lord God formed man from the sea's slime
And breathed into his face the breath of life,
And the blue-lung'd combers lumbered to the kill.
The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.
Sites with more Quaker poets
Catalogue of Quaker writings:
Quaker poetry, fiction, essays:
Quakers and the Arts:
More examples to follow as they are
Please send any useful material you come accross to