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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,

Learn to labor and to wait.


In his diary, under date of December 6, 1838, Mr. Longfellow writes: “A beautiful holy morning within me. I was softly excited, I knew not why, and wrote with peace in my heart, and not without tears in my eyes, The Reaper and the Flowers, a Psalm of Death. I have had an idea of this kind in my mind for a long time, without finding any expression for it in words. This morning it seemed to crystallize at once, without any effort of

This psalm was printed in the Knickerbocker for January, 1839, with the sub-title A Psalm of Death, and with the familiar stanza from Henry Vaughan, beginning:

my own."

Dear beauteous death ; the jewel of the just !

THERE is a Reaper, whose name is Death,

And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that



“Shall I have naught that is fair?” saith he;

“Have naught but the bearded grain ? Though the breath of these flowers is sweet

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He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,

He kissed their drooping leaves;

It was for the Lord of Paradise

He bound them in his sheaves.

“ My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,'

The Reaper said, and smiled ; “Dear tokens of the earth are they,

Where He was once a child.


They shall all bloom in fields of light,

Transplanted by my care,
And saints, upon their garments white,

These sacred blossoms wear."

And the mother gave, in tears and pain,

The flowers she most did love ;
She knew she should find them all again

In the fields of light above.

Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,

The Reaper came that day; 'Twas an angel visited the green earth,

And took the flowers away.


This poem was written on a beautiful summer night. The moon, a little strip of silver, was just setting behind the groves of Mount Auburn, and the planet Mars blazing in the southeast. There was a singular light in the sky.” H. W. L. It was published in the same number of the Knickerbocker as the last, where it was headed A Second Psalm of Life, and prefaced by another stanza from the same poem of Vaughan :

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,

Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest

After the sun's remove.

THE night is come, but not too soon;

And sinking silently,
All silently, the little moon

Drops down behind the sky.

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There is no light in earth or heaven

But the cold light of stars;
And the first watch of night is given

To the red planet Mars.

Is it the tender star of love ?

The star of love and dreams ?
Oh no! from that blue tent above

A hero's armor gleams.

And earnest thoughts within me rise,

When I behold afar,
Suspended in the evening skies,

The shield of that red star.

O star of strength! I see thee stand

And smile upon my pain ;
Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand,

And I am strong again.

Within my breast there is no light

But the cold light of stars ;
I give the first watch of the night

To the red planet Mars.

The star of the unconquered will,

He rises in my breast,
Serene, and resolute, and still,

And calm, and self-possessed.

And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,

That readest this brief psalm,
As one by one thy hopes depart,

Be resolute and calm.

Oh, fear not in a world like this,

And thou shalt know erelong,
Know how sublime a thing it is

To suffer and be strong.


“March 26, 1839. A lovely morning. Sat at home and wrote a third Psalm of Life, which I began long ago, but could never rightly close and complete till now. The beginning was written more than a year ago, and is copied under date of February 27, 1838; though, if I remember, I composed it a year earlier, even. In the afternoon I carried it to Felton and left it with him. He came up in the evening and said that he had read it to his wife, who 'cried like a child.' I want no more favorable criticism than this.” The poem in its first form bore the title Evening Shadows, and will be found in the notes at the end of this volume. In its present form it was printed in the Knickerbocker, May, 1839, as Voices of the Night: a Third Psalm of Life. The reference in the fourth stanza is to the poet's friend and brother-in-law George W. Pierce, of whom he said long after: “I have never ceased to feel that in his death something was taken from my own life which could never be restored.” News of his friend's death reached Mr. Longfellow in Heidelberg on Christmas eve, 1835, less than a month after the death of Mrs. Longfellow, who is referred to in the sixth and following stanzas.

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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,

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 ; 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,

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!

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

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,

Line 7. The beloved ones, the true-hearted,

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