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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,

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 !


“I wrote this poem on the 3d of October, 1837, to send with a bouquet of autumnal flowers. I still remember the great delight I took in its composition, and the bright sunshine that streamed in at the southern windows as I walked to and fro, pausing ever and anon to note down my thoughts." H. W. L. It was probably the first poem written by Mr. Longfellow after his establishment at Cambridge (see Introductory Note, ante), and was published in the Knickerbocker, December, 1837, under the title of Floral Astrology.

SPAKE full well, in language quaint and olden,

One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine, When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,

Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.

Stars they are, wherein we read our history,

As astrologers and seers of eld;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery,

Like the burning stars, which they beheld.

Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,

God hath written in those stars above;
But not less in the bright flowerets under us

Stands the revelation of his love.

Bright and glorious is that revelation,

Written all over this great world of ours ; Making evident our own creation,

In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.

And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing,

Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being,

Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.

Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining,

Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining,

Buds that open only to decay ;

Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues,

Flaunting gayly in the golden light; Large desires, with most uncertain issues,

Tender wishes, blossoming at night!

These in flowers and men are more than seem

ing, Workings are they of the self-same powers, Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming,

Seeth in himself and in the flowers.

Everywhere about us are they glowing,

Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born;

Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing,

, Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn;

Not alone in Spring's armorial bearing,

And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing,

In the centre of his brazen shield ;

Not alone in meadows and green alleys,

On the mountain-top, and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys,

Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink;

Not alone in her vast dome of glory,

Not on graves of bird and beast alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary,

On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone;

In the cottage of the rudest peasant,

In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present,

Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers;

In all places, then, and in all seasons,

Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,

How akin they are to human things.

And with childlike, credulous affection,

We behold their tender buds expand ; Emblems of our own great resurrection,

Emblems of the bright and better land.


THE BELEAGUERED CITY. Completed September 19, 1839. Mr. S. Longfellow states that the suggestion of the poem came from a note in one of the volumes of Scott's Border Minstrelsy : Similar to this was the Nacht Lager, or midnight camp, which seemed nightly to beleaguer the walls of Prague, but which disappeared upon the recitation of certain] magical words."

I HAVE read, in some old, marvellous tale,

Some legend strange and vague,
That a midnight host of spectres pale

Beleaguered the walls of Prague.

Beside the Moldau's rushing stream,

With the wan moon overhead,
There stood, as in an awful dream,

The army of the dead.

White as a sea-fog, landward bound,

The spectral camp was seen,
And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,

The river flowed between.


No other voice nor sound was there,

No drum, nor sentry's pace;
The mist-like banners clasped the air

As clouds with clouds embrace.

But when the old cathedral bell

Proclaimed the morning prayer,
The white pavilions rose and fell

On the alarmed air.

Down the broad valley fast and far

The troubled army fled; ;

Up rose the glorious morning star,

The ghastly host was dead.

I have read, in the marvellous heart of man,

That strange and mystic scroll,
That an army of phantoms vast and wan

Beleaguer the human soul.

Encamped beside Life's rushing stream,

In Fancy's misty light,
Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam

Portentous through the night.

Upon its midnight battle-ground
The spectral camp is seen,

And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,

Flows the River of Life between.

No other voice nor sound is there,

In the army of the grave;
No other challenge breaks the air,

But the rushing of Life's wave.

And when the solemn and deep church-bell

Entreats the soul to pray,
The midnight phantoms feel the spell,

The shadows sweep away.

Down the broad Vale of Tears afar

The spectral camp is fled ; Faith shineth as a morning star,

Our ghastly fears are dead.

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