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When nestling buds unfold their wings, And bishop's-caps have golden rings, Musing upon many things,

I sought the woodlands wide.

The green trees whispered low and mild;

It was a sound of joy ! They were my playmates when a child, And rocked me in their arms so wild ! Still they looked at me and smiled,

As if I were a boy ;


And ever whispered, mild and low,

Come, be a child once more !”
And waved their long arms to and fro,
And beckoned solemnly and slow;
Oh, I could not choose but go

Into the woodlands hoar,

Into the blithe and breathing air,

Into the solemn wood, Solemn and silent everywhere! Nature with folded hands seemed there, Kneeling at her evening prayer!

Like one in prayer I stood.

Before me rose an avenue

Of tall and sombrous pines ; Abroad their fan-like branches grew, And, where the sunshine darted through, Spread a vapor soft and blue,

In long and sloping lines.

And, falling on my weary brain,

Like a fast-falling shower, The dreams of youth came back again, Low lispings of the summer rain, Dropping on the ripened grain,

As once upon the flower.

Visions of childhood ! Stay, oh stay!

Ye were so sweet and wild ! And distant voices seemed to say, “ It cannot be! They pass away! Other themes demand thy lay;

Thou art no more a child !

“The land of Song within thee lies,

Watered by living springs ;
The lids of Fancy's sleepless eyes
Are gates unto that Paradise ;
Holy thoughts, like stars, arise ;

Its clouds are angels' wings.

“ Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be,

Not mountains capped with snow, Nor forests sounding like the sea, Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly, Where the woodlands bend to see

The bending heavens below.


6. There is a forest where the din

Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roars between,
And whosoever looks, therein
Sees the heavens all black with sin,

Sees not its depths, nor bounds.

“ Athwart the swinging branches cast,

Soft rays of sunshine pour;
Then comes the fearful wintry blast;
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast;
Pallid lips say, “It is past !

We can return no more!'

Look, then, into thine heart, and write!

Yes, into Life's deep stream !
All forms of sorrow and delight,
All solemn Voices of the Night,
That can soothe thee, or affright,

Be these henceforth thy theme.”


'Ασπασίη, τρίλλιστος. Composed in the summer of 1839 " while sitting at my chamber window, on one of the balmiest nights of the year. I endeavored to reproduce the impression of the hour and scene. I HEARD the trailing garments of the Night

Sweep through her marble halls !
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light

From the celestial walls !

I felt her presence, by its spell of might,

Stoop o'er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,

As of the one I love.

I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,

The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,

Like some old poet's rhymes.


From the cool cisterns of the midnight air

My spirit drank repose ;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, -

From those deep cisterns flows.

O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear

What man has borne before !/
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,

And they complain no more.

Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!

Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,

The best-beloved Night!




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Written July 26, 1838. Mr. Longfellow said of this poem : “I kept it some time in manuscript, unwilling to show it to any one, it being a voice from my inmost heart, at a time when I was rallying from depression.” Before it was published in the Knickerbocker Magazine, October, 1838, it was read by the poet to his college class at the close of a lecture on Goethe. Its title, though used now exclusively for this poem, was originally, in the poet's mind, a generic one. He notes from time to time that he has written a psalm, a psalm of death, or another psalm of life. The “psalmist” is thus the poet himself. When printed in the Knickerbocker it bore as a motto the lines from Crashaw:

Life that shall send
A challenge to its end,

And when it comes say, Welcome, friend.
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,

Line 24. Footsteps on the sands of time;
Line 25. Footsteps, that perhaps another,

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