Longfellow was born in Maine in 1807 and died in 1882. In the interim, he spent a number of years as a professor of modern languages at Harvard, and did much to make American themes acceptable in poetry. For some reason, he is widely parodied.

He had a sad married life with his two wives dying, one from a miscarriage and one from a fire. He was a very popular poet and was a member of the Fireside Poets – a group of five well-known 19th century American poets.

Listed below are 20 different Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems. Clicking on any link will take you directly to that poem.


A Psalm Of Life

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

Excelsior (Longfellow poem)

Four by the clock

Haroun Al Raschid

Hiawatha's Departure

My Lost Youth

Nature (Longfellow poem)

Paul Revere's Ride

Robert Burns (Longfellow poem)

Santa Filomena

The Arrow and the Song

The Children's Hour

The Cross of Snow

The Day is Done

The Rainy Day

There Was a Little Girl

The Slave's Dream

The Village Blacksmith

The Wreck of the Hesperus

A Psalm Of Life

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream! -

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act, - act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

Wadsworth wrote this poem in 1847. Its time is based on what is known in history as the Great Upheaval. This is when French colonists, called Acadians, were forcibly deported from the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the second half of the 18th century.

The poem concerns a girl called Evangeline and her search for Gabriel, her lost love.

This poem is around 16,000 words long, and only the introduction is provided here.

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it

Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?

Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers -

Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,

Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!

Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October

Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.

Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,

Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,

List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;

List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The above poem was the model for The Metre Columbian poem, by Anonymous,

listed below.

The Metre Columbian

This verse is a parody of Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie.

This is the metre Columbian. The soft-flowing trochees and dactyls,

Blended with fragments spondaic, and here and there an iambus,

Syllables often sixteen, or more or less, as it happens,

Difficult always to scan, and depending greatly on accent,

Being a close imitation, in English, of Latin hexameters -

Fluent in sound and avoiding the stiffness of blank verse,

Having the grandeur and flow of America's mountains and rivers,

Such as no bard could achieve in a mean little island like England;

Oft, at the end of a line, the sentence dividing abruptly

Breaks, and in accents mellifluous, follows the thoughts of the author.



Excelsior (Longfellow poem)

The shades of night were falling fast,

As through an Alpine village passed

A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,

A banner with the strange device -


His brow was sad; his eye beneath

Flashed like a falchion from its sheath;

And like a silver clarion rung

The accents of that unknown tongue -


In happy homes he saw the light

Of household fires gleam warm and bright,

Above, the spectral glaciers shone,

And from his lips escaped a groan -


"Try not the pass," the old man said:

"Dark lowers the tempest overhead;

The roaring torrent is deep and wide."

And loud that clarion voice replied,


"Oh, stay," the maiden said, "and rest

Thy weary head upon this breast!"

A tear stood in his bright blue eye,

But still he answered with a sigh,


"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!

Beware the awful avalanche!"

This was the peasant's last Good-night:

A voice replied, far up the height:


At break of day, as heavenward

The pious monks of Saint Bernard

Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,

A voice cried through the startled air,


A traveller, by the faithful hound,

Half-buried in the snow was found,

Still grasping in his hand of ice

That banner with the strange device,


There in the twilight, cold and gray,

Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,

And from the sky, serene and far,

A voice fell, like a falling star -


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Four by the clock

Four by the clock! and yet not day;

But the great world rolls and wheels away,

With its cities on land, and its ships at sea,

Into the dawn that is to be!

Only the lamp in the anchored bark

Sends its glimmer across the dark,

And the heavy breathing of the sea

Is the only sound that comes to me.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Haroun Al Raschid

One day, Haroun Al Raschid read

A book wherein the poet said:-

"Where are the kings, and where the rest

Of those who once the world possessed?

"They're gone with all their pomp and show,

They're gone the way that thou shalt go.

"O thou who choosest for thy share

The world, and what the world calls fair,

"Take all that it can give or lend,

But know that death is at the end!"

Haroun Al Raschid bowed his head:

Tears fell upon the page he read.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Hiawatha's Departure

(from The Song of Hiawatha)

By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,

By the shining Big-Sea-Water,

At the doorway of his wigwam,

In the pleasant Summer morning,

Hiawatha stood and waited.

All the air was full of freshness,

All the earth was bright and joyous,

And before him through the sunshine,

Westward toward the neighboring forest

Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,

Passed the bees, the honey-makers,

Burning, singing in the sunshine.

Bright above him shown the heavens,

Level spread the lake before him;

From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,

Aparkling, flashing in the sunshine;

On its margin the great forest

Stood reflected in the water,

Every tree-top had its shadow,

Motionless beneath the water.

From the brow of Hiawatha

Gone was every trace of sorrow,

As the fog from off the water,

And the mist from off the meadow.

With a smile of joy and triumph,

With a look of exultation,

As of one who in a vision

Sees what is to be, but is not,

Stood and waited Hiawatha.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For a parody, see The Modern Hiawatha below by George A. Strong.

We know nothing at all about Mr. Strong, but within the specialist art form of parodying 'Hiawatha', he is too good to leave out. His is a parody of the style seen in Hiawatha's Departure.

The Modern Hiawatha

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.

Of the skin he made him mittens,

Made them with the fur side inside,

Made them with the skin side outside.

He, to get the warm side inside,

Put the inside skin side outside.

He, to get the cold side outside,

Put the warm side fur side inside.

That's why he put the fur side inside,

Why he put the skin side outside,

Why he turned them inside outside.

George A. Strong


My Lost Youth

Often I think of the beautiful town

That is seated by the sea;

Often in thought go up and down

The pleasant streets of that dear old town,

And my youth comes back to me.

And a verse of a Lapland song

Is haunting my memory still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,

And catch, in sudden gleams,

The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,

And islands that were the Hesperides

Of all my boyish dreams.

And the burden of that old song,

It murmurs and whispers still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I remember the black wharves and the slips,

And the sea-tides tossing free;

And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,

And the beauty and mystery of the ships,

And the magic of the sea.

And the voice of that wayward song

Is singing and saying still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I remember the bulwarks by the shore,

And the fort upon the hill;

The sunrise gun with its hollow roar,

The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,

And the bugle wild and shrill.

And the music of that old song

Throbs in my memory still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I remember the sea-fight far away,

How it thunder'd o'er the tide!

And the dead sea-captains, as they lay

In their graves o'erlooking the tranquil bay

Where they in battle died.

And the sound of that mournful song

Goes through me with a thrill:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I can see the breezy dome of groves,

The shadows of Deering's woods;

And the friendships old and the early loves

Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves

In quiet neighbourhoods.

And the verse of that sweet old song,

It flutters and murmurs still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

I remember the gleams and glooms that dart

Across the schoolboy's brain;

The song and the silence in the heart,

That in part are prophecies, and in part

Are longings wild and vain.

And the voice of that fitful song

Sings on, and is never still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

There are things of which I may not speak;

There are dreams that cannot die;

There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,

And bring a pallor into the cheek,

And a mist before the eye.

And the words of that fatal song

Come over me like a chill:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

Strange to me now are the forms I meet

When I visit the dear old town;

But the native air is pure and sweet,

And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,

As they balance up and down,

Are singing the beautiful song,

Are sighing and whispering still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

And Deering's woods are fresh and fair,

And with joy that is almost pain

My heart goes back to wander there,

And among the dreams of the days that were

I find my lost youth again.

And the strange and beautiful song,

The groves are repeating it still:

'A boy's will is the wind's will,

'And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Nature (Longfellow poem)

As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,

Leads by the hand her little child to bed,

Half willing, half reluctant to be led,

And leave his broken playthings on the floor,

Still gazing at them through the open door,

Nor wholly reassured and comforted

By promises of others in their stead,

Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;

So Nature deals with us, and takes away

Our playthings one by one, and by the hand

Leads us to rest so gently, that we go

Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,

Being too full of sleep to understand

How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Paul Revere's Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,

Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

Of the North Church tower as a signal light,-

One, if by land, and two, if by sea;

And I on the opposite shore will be,

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every Middlesex village and farm

For the country folk to be up and to arm,"

Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar

Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,

Just as the moon rose over the bay,

Where swinging wide at her moorings lay

The Somerset, British man-of-war;

A phantom ship, with each mast and spar

Across the moon like a prison bar,

And a huge black hulk, that was magnified

By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,

Wanders and watches with eager ears,

Till in the silence around him he hears

The muster of men at the barrack door,

The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,

And the measured tread of the grenadiers,

Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,

By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,

To the belfry-chamber overhead,

And startled the pigeons from their perch

On the sombre rafters, that round him made

Masses and moving shapes of shade,-

By the trembling ladder, steep and tall

To the highest window in the wall,

Where he paused to listen and look down

A moment on the roofs of the town,

And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,

In their night-encampment on the hill,

Wrapped in silence so deep and still

That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,

The watchful night-wind, as it went

Creeping along from tent to tent

And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"

A moment only he feels the spell

Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread

Of the lonely belfry and the dead;

For suddenly all his thoughts are bent

On a shadowy something far away,

Where the river widens to meet the bay,-

A line of black that bends and floats

On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,

Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride

On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.

Now he patted his horse's side,

Now gazed at the landscape far and near,

Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,

And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;

But mostly he watched with eager search

The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,

As it rose above the graves on the hill,

Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height

A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!

He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,

But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight

A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,

A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,

And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark

Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:

That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,

The fate of a nation was riding that night;

And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,

Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,

And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,

Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;

And under the alders, that skirt its edge,

Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,

Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock

When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.

He heard the crowing of the cock,

And the barking of the farmer's dog,

And felt the damp of the river fog,

That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,

When he galloped into Lexington.

He saw the gilded weathercock

Swim in the moonlight as he passed,

And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,

Gaze at him with a spectral glare,

As if they already stood aghast

At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,

When he came to the bridge in Concord town.

He heard the bleating of the flock,

And the twitter of birds among the trees,

And felt the breath of the morning breeze

Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed

Who at the bridge would be first to fall,

Who that day would be lying dead,

Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,

How the British Regulars fired and fled,-

How the farmers gave them ball for ball,

From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,

Chasing the red-coats down the lane,

Then crossing the fields to emerge again

Under the trees at the turn of the road,

And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;

And so through the night went his cry of alarm

To every Middlesex village and farm,-

A cry of defiance and not of fear,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

And a word that shall echo forevermore!

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

Through all our history, to the last,

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Robert Burns (Longfellow poem)

I see amid the fields of Ayr

A ploughman, who, in foul and fair,

Sings at his task

So clear, we know not if it is

The laverock's song we hear, or his,

Nor care to ask.

For him the ploughing of those fields

A more ethereal harvest yields

Than sheaves of grain;

Songs flush with Purple bloom the rye,

The plover's call, the curlew's cry,

Sing in his brain.

Touched by his hand, the wayside weed

Becomes a flower; the lowliest reed

Beside the stream

Is clothed with beauty; gorse and grass

And heather, where his footsteps pass,

The brighter seem.

He sings of love, whose flame illumes

The darkness of lone cottage rooms;

He feels the force,

The treacherous undertow and stress

Of wayward passions, and no less

The keen remorse.

At moments, wrestling with his fate,

His voice is harsh, but not with hate;

The brushwood, hung

Above the tavern door, lets fall

Its bitter leaf, its drop of gall

Upon his tongue.

But still the music of his song

Rises o'er all elate and strong;

Its master-chords

Are Manhood, Freedom, Brotherhood,

Its discords but an interlude

Between the words.

And then to die so young and leave

Unfinished what he might achieve!

Yet better sure

Is this, than wandering up and down

An old man in a country town,

Infirm and poor.

For now he haunts his native land

As an immortal youth; his hand

Guides every plough;

He sits beside each ingle-nook,

His voice is in each rushing brook,

Each rustling bough.

His presence haunts this room to-night,

A form of mingled mist and light

From that far coast.

Welcome beneath this roof of mine!

Welcome! this vacant chair is thine,

Dear guest and ghost!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Santa Filomena

Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,

Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,

Our hearts, in glad surprise,

To higher levels rise.

The tidal wave of deeper souls

Into our inmost being rolls,

And lifts us unawares

Out of all meaner cares.

Honor to those whose words or deeds

Thus help us in our daily needs,

And by their overflow

Raise us from what is low!

Thus thought I, as by night I read

Of the great army of the dead,

The trenches cold and damp,

The starved and frozen camp,—

The wounded from the battle-plain,

In dreary hospitals of pain,

The cheerless corridors,

The cold and stony floors.

Lo! in that house of misery

A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom,

And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss,

The speechless sufferer turns to kiss

Her shadow, as it falls

Upon the darkening walls.

As if a door in heaven should be

Opened, and then closed suddenly,

The vision came and went,

The light shone was spent.

On England's annals, through the long

Hereafter of her speech and song,

That light its rays shall cast

From portals of the past.

A lady with a lamp shall stand

In the great history of the land,

A noble type of good,

Heroic womanhood.

Nor even shall be wanting here

The palm, the lily, and the spear,

The symbols that of yore

Saint Filomena bore.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where:

For so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth I knew not where;

For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak,

I found the arrow still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,

When the night is beginning to lower,

Comes a pause in the day's occupations

That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me

The patter of little feet,

The sound of a door that is opened,

And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,

Descending the broad hall-stair,

Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,

And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:

Yet I know by their merry eyes

They are plotting and planning together

To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,

A sudden raid from the hall!

By three doors left unguarded

They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret

O'er the arms and back of my chair;

If I try to escape, they surround me;

They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,

Their arms about me entwine,

Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen

In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,

Because you have scaled the wall,

Such an old moustache as I am

Is not a match for you all?

I have you fast in my fortress,

And will not let you depart,

But put you down into the dungeons

In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,

Yes, forever and a day,

Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,

And moulder in dust away!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Cross of Snow

This poem was written by Longfellow two years before he died. It reflects on the death of his second wife, Frances, who died when her dress caught fire. In trying to put out the fire, Longfellow was also badly burned

In the long, sleepless watches of the night,

A gentle face - the face of one long dead -

Looks at me from the wall, where round its head

The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.

Here in this room she died; and soul more white

Never through martyrdom of fire was led

To its repose; nor can in books be read

The legend of a life more benedight*.

There is a mountain in the distant West

That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines

Displays a cross of snow upon its side.

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast

These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes

And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

benedight* blessed

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Day is Done

The day is done, and the darkness

Falls from the wings of Night,

As a feather is wafted downward

From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village

Gleam through the rain and the mist,

And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me

That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,

That is not akin to pain,

And resembles sorrow only

As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,

Some simple and heartfelt lay,

That shall soothe this restless feeling,

And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,

Not from the bards sublime,

Whose distant footsteps echo

Through the corridors of Time,

For, like strains of martial music,

Their mighty thoughts suggest

Life's endless toil and endeavour;

And tonight I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,

Whose songs gushed from his heart,

As showers from the clouds of summer,

Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,

And nights devoid of ease,

Still heard in his soul the music

Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have a power to quiet

The restless pulse of care,

And comes like the benediction

That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume

The poem of thy choice,

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl, who had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead,

And when she was good she was very, very good,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

She stood on her head, on her little trundle-bed,

With nobody by for to hinder;

She screamed and she squalled, she yelled and she bawled,

And drummed her little heels against the winder.

Her mother heard the noise, and thought it was the boys

Playing in the empty attic,

She rushed upstairs, and caught her unawares,

And spanked her, most emphatic.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Slave's Dream

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,

His sickle in his hand;

His breast was bare, his matted hair

Was buried in the sand.

Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,

He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams

The lordly Niger flowed;

Beneath the palm-trees on the plain

Once more a king he strode;

And heard the tinkling caravans

Descend the mountain-road.

He saw once more his dark-eyed queen

Among her children stand;

They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,

They held him by the hand!-

A tear burst from the sleeper's lids

And fell into the sand.

And then at furious speed he rode

Along the Niger's bank;

His bridle-reins were golden chains,

And, with a martial clank,

At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel

Smiting his stallion's flank.

Before him, like a blood-red flag,

The bright flamingoes flew;

From morn till night he followed their flight,

O'er plains where the tamarind grew,

Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,

And the ocean rose to view.

At night he heard the lion roar,

And the hyena scream,

And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds

Beside some hidden stream;

And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,

Through the triumph of his dream.

The forests, with their myriad tongues,

Shouted of liberty;

And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,

With a voice so wild and free,

That he started in his sleep and smiled

At their tempestuous glee.

He did not feel the driver's whip,

Nor the burning heat of day;

For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,

And his lifeless body lay

A worn-out fetter, that the soul

Had broken and thrown away!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,

His face is like the tan;

His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns whate'er he can,

And looks the whole world in the face,

For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,

You can hear his bellows blow;

You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,

With measured beat and slow,

Like a sexton ringing the village bell,

When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school

Look in at the open door;

They love to see the flaming forge,

And hear the bellows roar,

And catch the burning sparks that fly

Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,

And sits among his boys;

He hears the parson pray and preach,

He hears his daughter's voice,

Singing in the village choir,

And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,

Singing in Paradise!

He needs must think of her once more,

How in the grave she lies;

And with his hard, rough hand he wipes

A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, - rejoicing, - sorrowing,

Onward through life he goes;

Each morning sees some task begin,

Each evening sees it close;

Something attempted, something done,

Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou hast taught!

Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought;

Thus on its sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Wreck of the Hesperus

It was the schooner Hesperus

That sailed the wintry sea:

And the skipper had taken his little daughter,

To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,

And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds

The ope in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth,

And he watched how the veering flaw did blow

The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old sailor,

Had sailed to the Spanish Main,

"I pray thee, put into yonder port,

For I fear a hurricane.

"Last night, the moon had a golden ring,

And tonight no moon we see!"

The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,

And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,

A gale from the Northeast,

The snow fell hissing in the brine,

And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain,

The vessel in its strength:

She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,

Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,

And do not tremble so:

For I can weather the roughest gale,

That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat

Against the stinging blast;

He cut a rope from a broken spar,

And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,

O say, what may it be?"

"Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!"-

And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns,

O say, what may it be?"

"Some ship in distress, that cannot live

In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light,

O say, what may it be?"

But the father answered never a word,

A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies,

The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow

On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed

That saved she might be;

And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,

On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear

Through the whistling sleet and snow,

Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept

Towards the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between

A sound came from the land;

It was the sound of the trampling surf,

On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,

She drifted a weary wreck,

And a whooping billow swept the crew

Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves

Looked soft as carded wool,

But the cruel rocks, they gored her side

Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,

With the masts went by the board;

Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,

Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,

A fisherman stood aghast,

To see the form of a maiden fair

Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozed on her breast,

The salt tears in her eyes;

And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,

On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,

In the midnight and the snow!

Christ save us all from a death like this,

On the reef of Norman's Woe!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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