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Finished October 9, 1845, and at irst localized as The Bridge over the Charles, the river which separates Cambridge from Boston.

I STOOD. on the bridge at midnight,

As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the city,

Behind the dark church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection

In the waters under me,
Like a golden goblet falling

And sinking into the sea.

And far in the hazy distance

Of that lovely night in June,
The blaze of the flaming furnace

Gleamed redder than the moon.

Among the long, black rafters

The wavering shadows lay,
And the current that came from the ocean

Seemed to lift and bear them away;

As, sweeping and eddying through them,

Rose the belated tide,
And, streaming into the moonlight,

The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing

Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thoughts came o'er me

That filled my eyes with tears.

How often, oh how often,

In the days that had gone by, I had stood on that bridge at midnight

And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, oh how often,

I had wished that the ebbing tide Would bear me away on its bosom

O'er the ocean wild and wide!

For my heart was hot and restless,

life was full of care, And the burden laid upon me

Seemed greater than I could bear.

But now it has fallen from me,

It is buried in the sea ;
And only the sorrow of others

Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river

On its bridge with wooden piers, Like the odor of brine from the ocean

Comes the thought of other years.

And I think how many thousands

Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,

Have crossed the bridge since then.

I see the long procession

Still passing to and fro, The

young heart hot and restless, And the old subdued and slow!

And forever and forever,

As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,

As long as life has woes ;

The moon and its broken reflection

And its shadows shall appear,
As the symbol of love in heaven,

And its wavering image here.


“October 17, 1845. Retouched The Bridge and the lines To the Driving Cloud in hexameters, — better than the translation from Tegnér" The Children of the Lord's Supper.

GLOOMY and dark art thou, O chief of the mighty

Omahas; Gloomy and dark as the driving cloud, whose name

thou hast taken ! Wrapped in thy scarlet blanket, I see thee stalk

through the city's Narrow and populous streets, as once by the margin

of rivers Stalked those birds unknown, that have left us

only their footprints. What, in a few short years, will remain of thy race

but the footprints ?


How canst thou walk these streets, who hast trod Ah! 'tis in vain that with lordly looks of disdain

the green turf of the prairies? How canst thou breathe this air, who hast breathed

the sweet air of the mountains ?

thou dost challenge Looks of disdain in return, and question these

walls and these pavements, Claiming the soil for thy hunting-grounds, while

down-trodden millions Starve in the garrets of Europe, and cry from its

caverns that they, too, Have been created heirs of the earth, and claim its

division !

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Back, then, back to thy woods in the regions west

of the Wabash! There as a monarch thou reignest. In autumn the

leaves of the maple Pave the floors of thy palace-halls with gold, and

in summer Pine-trees waft through its chambers the odorous

breath of their branches. There thou art strong and great, a hero, a tamer

of horses ! There thou chasest the stately stag on the banks of

the Elkhorn, Or by the roar of the Running-Water, or where

the Omaha Calls thee, and leaps through the wild ravine like

a brave of the Blackfeet!

Hark! what murmurs arise from the heart of those

mountainous deserts ? Is it the cry of the Foxes and Crows, or the mighty

Behemoth, Who, unharmed, on his tusks once caught the

bolts of the thunder,

And now lurks in his lair to destroy the race of

the red man? Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the

Crows and the Foxes, Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the tread

of Behemoth, Lo! the big thunder-canoe, that steadily breasts

the Missouri's Merciless current ! and yonder, afar on the prairies,

the camp-fires Gleam through the night; and the cloud of dust in


of the daybreak Marks not the buffalo's track, nor the Mandan's

dexterous horse-race; It is a caravan, whitening the desert where dwell

the Camanches ! Ha! how the breath of these Saxons and Celts,

like the blast of the east-wind, Drifts evermore to the west the scanty smokes of

thy wigwams!



Written in the fall of 1844 as proem to The Waif, a small volume of poems selected by Mr. Longfellow and published at Christmas of that year.

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.

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