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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,
Behind the dark church-tower.
I saw her bright reflection
In the waters under me,
And sinking into the sea.
And far in the hazy distance
Of that lovely night in June,
Gleamed redder than the moon.
Among the long, black rafters
The wavering shadows lay,
Seemed to lift and bear them away;
As, sweeping and eddying through them,
Rose the belated tide,
The seaweed floated wide.
And like those waters rushing
Among the wooden piers,
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 ;
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,
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 life has woes ;
The moon and its broken reflection
And its shadows shall appear,
And its wavering image here.
TO THE DRIVING CLOUD.
“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
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
THE DAY IS DONE.
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,
From an eagle in his flight.