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Best Famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poems


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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! 


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.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

Paul Reveres 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 to the tower of the church, 
Up 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 on 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 that flies 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 load 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 when 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 be 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 farmyard-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. 


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.


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 


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.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Skeleton in Armor

"SPEAK! speak! thou fearful guest! 
Who, with thy hollow breast 
Still in rude armor drest, 
Comest to daunt me! 
Wrapt not in Eastern balms, 5 
But with thy fleshless palms 
Stretched, as if asking alms, 
Why dost thou haunt me?" 

Then, from those cavernous eyes 
Pale flashes seemed to rise, 10 
As when the Northern skies 
Gleam in December; 
And, like the water's flow 
Under December's snow, 
Came a dull voice of woe 15 
From the heart's chamber. 

"I was a Viking old! 
My deeds, though manifold, 
No Skald in song has told, 
No Saga taught thee! 20 
Take heed, that in thy verse 
Thou dost the tale rehearse, 
Else dread a dead man's curse; 
For this I sought thee. 

"Far in the Northern Land, 25 
By the wild Baltic's strand, 
I, with my childish hand, 
Tamed the gerfalcon; 
And, with my skates fast-bound, 
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound, 30 
That the poor whimpering hound 
Trembled to walk on. 

"Oft to his frozen lair 
Tracked I the grisly bear, 
While from my path the hare 35 
Fled like a shadow; 
Oft through the forest dark 
Followed the were-wolf's bark, 
Until the soaring lark 
Sang from the meadow. 40 

"But when I older grew, 
Joining a corsair's crew, 
O'er the dark sea I flew 
With the marauders. 
Wild was the life we led; 45 
Many the souls that sped, 
Many the hearts that bled, 
By our stern orders. 

"Many a wassail-bout 
Wore the long Winter out; 50 
Often our midnight shout 
Set the cocks crowing, 
As we the Berserk's tale 
Measured in cups of ale, 
Draining the oaken pail, 55 
Filled to o'erflowing. 

"Once as I told in glee 
Tales of the stormy sea, 
Soft eyes did gaze on me, 
Burning yet tender; 60 
And as the white stars shine 
On the dark Norway pine, 
On that dark heart of mine 
Fell their soft splendor. 

"I wooed the blue-eyed maid, 65 
Yielding, yet half afraid, 
And in the forest's shade 
Our vows were plighted. 
Under its loosened vest 
Fluttered her little breast, 70 
Like birds within their nest 
By the hawk frighted. 

"Bright in her father's hall 
Shields gleamed upon the wall, 
Loud sang the minstrels all, 75 
Chanting his glory; 
When of old Hildebrand 
I asked his daughter's hand, 
Mute did the minstrels stand 
To hear my story. 80 

"While the brown ale he quaffed, 
Loud then the champion laughed, 
And as the wind-gusts waft 
The sea-foam brightly, 
So the loud laugh of scorn, 85 
Out of those lips unshorn, 
From the deep drinking-horn 
Blew the foam lightly. 

"She was a Prince's child, 
I but a Viking wild, 90 
And though she blushed and smiled, 
I was discarded! 
Should not the dove so white 
Follow the sea-mew's flight, 
Why did they leave that night 95 
Her nest unguarded? 

"Scarce had I put to sea, 
Bearing the maid with me, 
Fairest of all was she 
Among the Norsemen! 100 
When on the white sea-strand, 
Waving his arm¨¨d hand, 
Saw we old Hildebrand, 
With twenty horsemen. 

"Then launched they to the blast, 105 
Bent like a reed each mast, 
Yet we were gaining fast, 
When the wind failed us; 
And with a sudden flaw 
Came round the gusty Skaw, 110 
So that our foe we saw 
Laugh as he hailed us. 

"And as to catch the gale 
Round veered the flapping sail, 
'Death!' was the helmsman's hail, 115 
'Death without quarter!' 
Mid-ships with iron keel 
Struck we her ribs of steel; 
Down her black hulk did reel 
Through the black water! 120 

"As with his wings aslant, 
Sails the fierce cormorant, 
Seeking some rocky haunt, 
With his prey laden, 
So toward the open main, 125 
Beating to sea again, 
Through the wild hurricane, 
Bore I the maiden. 

"Three weeks we westward bore, 
And when the storm was o'er, 130 
Cloud-like we saw the shore 
Stretching to leeward; 
There for my lady's bower 
Built I the lofty tower, 
Which, to this very hour, 135 
Stands looking seaward. 

"There lived we many years; 
Time dried the maiden's tears; 
She had forgot her fears, 
She was a mother; 140 
Death closed her mild blue eyes, 
Under that tower she lies; 
Ne'er shall the sun arise 
On such another! 

"Still grew my bosom then, 145 
Still as a stagnant fen! 
Hateful to me were men, 
The sunlight hateful! 
In the vast forest here, 
Clad in my warlike gear, 150 
Fell I upon my spear, 
Oh, death was grateful! 

"Thus, seamed with many scars, 
Bursting these prison bars, 
Up to its native stars 155 
My soul ascended! 
There from the flowing bowl 
Deep drinks the warrior's soul, 
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!" 
Thus the tale ended. 160 


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

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. 5 
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, 10 
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, 15 
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; 20 
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: 25 
"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, 30 
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, 35 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

I remember the sea-fight far away, 
How it thundered o'er the tide! 
And the dead captains, as they lay 
In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay, 40 
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." 45 

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 neighborhoods. 50 
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 55 
Across the school-boy'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 60 
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; 65 
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: 70 
"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, 75 
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, 80 
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, 85 
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." 90 


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! 


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.