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Longfellow

Written by: Henry Van Dyke | Biography
 | Quotes (25) |
 In a great land, a new land, a land full of labour 
and riches and confusion,
Where there were many running to and fro, and
shouting, and striving together,
In the midst of the hurry and the troubled noise, 
I heard the voice of one singing.
"What are you doing there, O man, singing quietly amid all this tumult? This is the time for new inventions, mighty shoutings, and blowings of the trumpet.
" But he answered, "I am only shepherding my sheep with music.
" So he went along his chosen way, keeping his little flock around him; And he paused to listen, now and then, beside the antique fountains, Where the faces of forgotten gods were refreshed with musically falling waters; Or he sat for a while at the blacksmith's door, and heard the cling-clang of the anvils; Or he rested beneath old steeples full of bells, that showered their chimes upon him; Or he walked along the border of the sea, drinking in the long roar of the billows; Or he sunned himself in the pine-scented ship- yard, amid the tattoo of the mallets; Or he leaned on the rail of the bridge, letting his thoughts flow with the whispering river; He hearkened also to ancient tales, and made them young again with his singing.
Then a flaming arrow of death fell on his flock, and pierced the heart of his dearest! Silent the music now, as the shepherd entered the mystical temple of sorrow: Long he tarried in darkness there: but when he came out he was singing.
And I saw the faces of men and women and children silently turning toward him; The youth setting out on the journey of life, and the old man waiting beside the last mile-stone; The toiler sweating beneath his load; and the happy mother rocking her cradle; The lonely sailor on far-off seas; and the grey- minded scholar in his book-room; The mill-hand bound to a clacking machine; and the hunter in the forest; And the solitary soul hiding friendless in the wilderness of the city; Many human faces, full of care and longing, were drawn irresistibly toward him, By the charm of something known to every heart, yet very strange and lovely, And at the sound of that singing wonderfully all their faces were lightened.
"Why do you listen, O you people, to this old and world-worn music? This is not for you, in the splendour of a new age, in the democratic triumph! Listen to the clashing cymbals, the big drums, the brazen trumpets of your poets.
" But the people made no answer, following in their hearts the simpler music: For it seemed to them, noise-weary, nothing could be better worth the hearing Than the melodies which brought sweet order into life's confusion.
So the shepherd sang his way along, until he came unto a mountain: And I know not surely whether it was called Parnassus, But he climbed it out of sight, and still I heard the voice of one singing.



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