The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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VOICES OF THE NIGHT

<Greek poem here—Euripides.>

PRELUDE.

Pleasant it was, when woods were green,  And winds were soft and low,To lie amid some sylvan scene.Where, the long drooping boughs between,Shadows dark and sunlight sheen  Alternate come and go;

Or where the denser grove receives  No sunlight from above,But the dark foliage interweavesIn one unbroken roof of leaves,Underneath whose sloping eaves  The shadows hardly move.

Beneath some patriarchal tree  I lay upon the ground;His hoary arms uplifted he,And all the broad leaves over meClapped their little hands in glee,  With one continuous sound;—

A slumberous sound, a sound that brings  The feelings of a dream,As of innumerable wings,As, when a bell no longer swings,Faint the hollow murmur rings  O'er meadow, lake, and stream.

And dreams of that which cannot die,  Bright visions, came to me,As lapped in thought I used to lie,And gaze into the summer sky,Where the sailing clouds went by,  Like ships upon the sea;

Dreams that the soul of youth engage  Ere Fancy has been quelled;Old legends of the monkish page,Traditions of the saint and sage,Tales that have the rime of age,  And chronicles of Eld.

And, loving still these quaint old themes,  Even in the city's throngI feel the freshness of the streams,That, crossed by shades and sunny gleams,Water the green land of dreams,  The holy land of song.

Therefore, at Pentecost, which brings  The Spring, clothed like a bride,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;O, I could not choose but go  Into the woodlands hoar,—

Into the blithe and breathing air,  Into the solemn wood,Solemn and silent everywhereNature with folded hands seemed thereKneeling 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, O 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 eyesAre gates unto that Paradise,Holy thoughts, like stars, arise,  Its clouds are angels' wings....