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Best Famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems. This is a select list of the best famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems.

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Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Tide Rises the Tide Falls

The tide rises, the tide falls, 
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls; 
Along the sea-sands damp and brown 
The traveller hastens toward the town, 
  And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on roofs and walls, But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls; The little waves, with their soft, white hands, Efface the footprints in the sands, And the tide rises, the tide falls.
The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls; The day returns, but nevermore Returns the traveller to the shore, And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Childrens 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 mustache 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 dungeon 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!

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Fire of Drift-Wood

We sat within the farm-house old,
  Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
  An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port, The strange, old-fashioned, silent town, The lighthouse, the dismantled fort, The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night, Descending, filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight, Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed, and who was dead; And all that fills the hearts of friends, When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends, And never can be one again; The first slight swerving of the heart, That words are powerless to express, And leave it still unsaid in part, Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips, As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships, The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed, We thought of wrecks upon the main, Of ships dismasted, that were hailed And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames, The ocean, roaring up the beach, The gusty blast, the bickering flames, All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part Of fancies floating through the brain, The long-lost ventures of the heart, That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned! They were indeed too much akin, The drift-wood fire without that burned, The thoughts that burned and glowed within.

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Written by 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 5 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 10 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 15 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.
20 For like strains of martial music Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet 25 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 30 Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care And come like the benediction 35 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.
40 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.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

Footsteps of Angels

WHEN the hours of Day are numbered  
And the voices of the Night 
Wake the better soul that slumbered  
To a holy calm delight; 

Ere the evening lamps are lighted 5 
And like phantoms grim and tall  
Shadows from the fitful firelight 
Dance upon the parlor wall; 

Then the forms of the departed 
Enter at the open door; 10 
The beloved the true-hearted  
Come to visit me once more; 

He the young and strong who cherished 
Noble longings for the strife  
By the roadside fell and perished 15 
Weary with the march of life! 

They the holy ones and weakly  
Who the cross of suffering bore  
Folded their pale hands so meekly  
Spake with us on earth no more! 20 

And with them the Being Beauteous  
Who unto my youth was given  
More than all things else to love me  
And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep 25 Comes that messenger divine Takes the vacant chair beside me Lays her gentle hand in mine.
And she sits and gazes at me With those deep and tender eyes 30 Like the stars so still and saint-like Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not yet comprehended Is the spirit's voiceless prayer Soft rebukes in blessings ended 35 Breathing from her lips of air.
Oh though oft depressed and lonely All my fears are laid aside If I but remember only Such as these have lived and died! 40

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


 Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

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!¡ª 
For the soul is dead that slumbers  
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! 5 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; 10 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 15 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! 20 Trust no Future howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act ¡ªact in the living Present! Heart within and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us 25 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 30 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 35 Learn to labor and to wait.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


THERE is no flock however watched and tended  
But one dead lamb is there! 
There is no fireside howsoe'er defended  
But has one vacant chair! 

The air is full of farewells to the dying 5 
And mournings for the dead; 
The heart of Rachel for her children crying  
Will not be comforted! 

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions 
Not from the ground arise 10 
But oftentimes celestial benedictions 
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors; Amid these earthly damps What seem to us but sad funereal tapers 15 May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition; This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life elysian Whose portal we call Death.
20 She is not dead ¡ªthe child of our affection ¡ª But gone unto that school Where she no longer needs our poor protection And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion 25 By guardian angels led Safe from temptation safe from sin's pollution She lives whom we call dead Day after day we think what she is doing In those bright realms of air; 30 Year after year her tender steps pursuing Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her and keep unbroken The bond which nature gives Thinking that our remembrance though unspoken 35 May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her; For when with raptures wild In our embraces we again enfold her She will not be a child; 40 But a fair maiden in her Father's mansion Clothed with celestial grace; And beautiful with all the soul's expansion Shall we behold her face.
And though at times impetuous with emotion 45 And anguish long suppressed The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean That cannot be at rest ¡ª We will be patient and assuage the feeling We may not wholly stay; 50 By silence sanctifying not concealing The grief that must have way.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


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  
Excelsior! 5 

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  
Excelsior! 10 

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  
Excelsior! 15 

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  
Excelsior! 20 

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  
Excelsior! 25 

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  
Excelsior! 30 

At break of day as heavenward 
The pious monks of Saint Bernard 
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer  
A voice cried through the startled air  
Excelsior! 35 

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  
Excelsior! 40 

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  
Excelsior! 45 

Written by 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 5 
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, 10 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 15 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; 20 They love to see the flaming forge, And hear the bellows roar, And watch the burning sparks that fly Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church, 25 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.
30 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 35 A tear out of his eyes.
Toiling,¡ªrejoicing,¡ªsorrowing, Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some task begin, Each evening sees it close; 40 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 45 Our fortunes must be wrought; Thus on its sounding anvil shaped Each burning deed and thought!

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Warden of the Cinque Ports

A MIST was driving down the British Channel, 
The day was just begun, 
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel, 
Streamed the red autumn sun.
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon, 5 And the white sails of ships; And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon Hailed it with feverish lips.
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover, Were all alert that day, 10 To see the French war-steamers speeding over, When the fog cleared away.
Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions, Their cannon, through the night, Holding their breath, had watched, in grim defiance, 15 The sea-coast opposite.
And now they roared at drum-beat from their stations, On every citadel; Each answering each, with morning salutations, That all was well.
20 And down the coast, all taking up the burden, Replied the distant forts, As if to summon from his sleep the Warden And Lord of the Cinque Ports.
Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure, 25 No drum-beat from the wall, No morning gun from the black fort's embrasure, Awaken with its call! No more, surveying with an eye impartial The long line of the coast, 30 Shall the gaunt figure of the old Field Marshal Be seen upon his post! For in the night, unseen, a single warrior, In sombre harness mailed, Dreaded of man, and surnamed the Destroyer, 35 The rampart wall had scaled.
He passed into the chamber of the sleeper, The dark and silent room, And as he entered, darker grew, and deeper, The silence and the gloom.
40 He did not pause to parley or dissemble, But smote the Warden hoar; Ah! what a blow! that made all England tremble And groan from shore to shore.
Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited, 45 The sun rose bright o'erhead; Nothing in Nature's aspect intimated That a great man was dead.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


THE RISING moon has hid the stars; 
Her level rays, like golden bars, 
Lie on the landscape green, 
With shadows brown between.
And silver white the river gleams, 5 As if Diana, in her dreams, Had dropt her silver bow Upon the meadows low.
On such a tranquil night as this, She woke Endymion with a kiss, 10 When, sleeping in the grove, He dreamed not of her love.
Like Dian's kiss, unasked, unsought, Love gives itself, but is not bought; Nor voice, nor sound betrays 15 Its deep, impassioned gaze.
It comes,¡ªthe beautiful, the free, The crown of all humanity,¡ª In silence and alone To seek the elected one.
20 It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep Are Life's oblivion, the soul's sleep, And kisses the closed eyes Of him who slumbering lies.
O weary hearts! O slumbering eyes! 25 O drooping souls, whose destinies Are fraught with fear and pain, Ye shall be loved again! No one is so accursed by fate, No one so utterly desolate, 30 But some heart, though unknown, Responds unto his own.
Responds,¡ªas if with unseen wings, An angel touched its quivering strings; And whispers, in its song, 35 "Where hast thou stayed so long?"

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Arsenal at Springfield

THIS is the Arsenal.
From floor to ceiling Like a huge organ rise the burnished arms; But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise how wild and dreary 5 When the death-angel touches those swift keys! What loud lament and dismal Miserere Will mingle with their awful symphonies! I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus The cries of agony the endless groan 10 Which through the ages that have gone before us In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song And loud amid the universal clamor 15 O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine who from his palace Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din And Aztec priests upon their teocallis Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin; 20 The tumult of each sacked and burning village; The shouts that every prayer for mercy drowns; The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage; The wail of famine in beleaguered towns; The bursting shell the gateway wrenched asunder 25 The rattling musketry the clashing blade; And ever and anon in tones of thunder The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it O man with such discordant noises With such accursed instruments as these 30 Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices And jarrest the celestial harmonies? Were half the power that fills the world with terror Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts Given to redeem the human mind from error 35 There were no need of arsenals or forts: The warrior's name would be a name abhorr¨¨d! And every nation that should lift again Its hand against a brother on its forehead Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain! 40 Down the dark future through long generations The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease; And like a bell with solemn sweet vibrations I hear once more the voice of Christ say Peace! Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals 45 The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies! But beautiful as songs of the immortals The holy melodies of love arise.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Cumberland

AT anchor in Hampton Roads we lay, 
On board of the Cumberland, sloop-of-war; 
And at times from the fortress across the bay 
The alarum of drums swept past, 
Or a bugle blast 5 
From the camp on the shore.
Then far away to the south uprose A little feather of snow-white smoke, And we knew that the iron ship of our foes Was steadily steering its course 10 To try the force Of our ribs of oak.
Down upon us heavily runs, Silent and sullen, the floating fort; Then comes a puff of smoke from her guns, 15 And leaps the terrible death, With fiery breath, From each open port.
We are not idle, but send her straight Defiance back in a full broadside! 20 As hail rebounds from a roof of slate, Rebounds our heavier hail From each iron scale Of the monster's hide.
"Strike your flag!" the rebel cries, 25 In his arrogant old plantation strain.
"Never!" our gallant Morris replies; "It is better to sink than to yield!" And the whole air pealed With the cheers of our men.
30 Then, like a kraken huge and black, She crushed our ribs in her iron grasp! Down went the Cumberland all a wrack, With a sudden shudder of death, And the cannon's breath 35 For her dying gasp.
Next morn, as the sun rose over the bay, Still floated our flag at the mainmast head.
Lord, how beautiful was Thy day! Every waft of the air 40 Was a whisper of prayer, Or a dirge for the dead.
Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas! Ye are at peace in the troubled stream; Ho! brave land! with hearts like these, 45 Thy flag, that is rent in twain, Shall be one again, And without a seam!

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


WHEN descends on the Atlantic 
The gigantic 
Storm-wind of the equinox  
Landward in his wrath he scourges 
The toiling surges 5 
Laden with seaweed from the rocks: 

From Bermuda's reefs; from edges 
Of sunken ledges  
In some far-off bright Azore; 
From Bahama and the dashing 10 
Surges of San Salvador; 

From the tumbling surf that buries 
The Orkneyan skerries  
Answering the hoarse Hebrides; 15 
And from wrecks of ships and drifting 
Spars uplifting 
On the desolate rainy seas;¡ª 

Ever drifting drifting drifting 
On the shifting 20 
Currents of the restless main; 
Till in sheltered coves and reaches 
Of sandy beaches  
All have found repose again.
So when storms of wild emotion 25 Strike the ocean Of the poet's soul erelong From each cave and rocky fastness In its vastness Floats some fragment of a song: 30 From the far-off isles enchanted Heaven has planted With the golden fruit of Truth; From the flashing surf whose vision Gleams Elysian 35 In the tropic clime of Youth; From the strong Will and the Endeavor That forever Wrestle with the tides of Fate; From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered 40 Tempest-shattered Floating waste and desolate;¡ª Ever drifting drifting drifting On the shifting Currents of the restless heart; 45 Till at length in books recorded They like hoarded Household words no more depart.