Tag Archives: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Arsenal at Springfield by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Arsenal at Springfield

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
      Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
      Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
      When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
      Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
      The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
      In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
      Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman’s song,
And loud, amid the universal clamor,
      O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
      Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
      Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent’s skin;
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
      The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers’ revels in the midst of pillage;
      The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
      The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder
      The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
      With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
      And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
      Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
      There were no need of arsenals or forts:
The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred!
      And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
      Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations,
      The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
      I hear once more the voice of Christ say, “Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
      The blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals,
      The holy melodies of love arise.
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Hymn to the Night by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Hymn to the Night

Aspasie, trillistos.
I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet’s rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

Serenade by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Serenade

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

STARS of the summer night!
Far in yon azure deeps,
Hide, hide your golden light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Moon of the summer night!
Far down yon western steeps,
Sink, sink in silver light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Wind of the summer night!
Where yonder woodbine creeps,
Fold, fold thy pinions light!
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

Dreams of the summer night!
Tell her, her lover keeps
Watch! while in slumbers light
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Sleeps!

The Skeleton in Armor by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Skeleton in Armor

“Speak! speak! thou fearful guest!

Who, with thy hollow breast

Still in rude armor drest,

      Comest to daunt me!

Wrapt not in Eastern balms,

But with thy fleshless palms

Stretched, as if asking alms,

      Why dost thou haunt me?”

Then, from those cavernous eyes

Pale flashes seemed to rise,

As when the Northern skies

      Gleam in December;

And, like the water’s flow

Under December’s snow,

Came a dull voice of woe

      From the heart’s chamber.

“I was a Viking old!

My deeds, though manifold,

No Skald in song has told,

      No Saga taught thee!

Take heed, that in thy verse

Thou dost the tale rehearse,

Else dread a dead man’s curse;

      For this I sought thee.

“Far in the Northern Land,

By the wild Baltic’s strand,

I, with my childish hand,

      Tamed the gerfalcon;

And, with my skates fast-bound,

Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,

That the poor whimpering hound

      Trembled to walk on.

“Oft to his frozen lair

Tracked I the grisly bear,

While from my path the hare

      Fled like a shadow;

Oft through the forest dark

Followed the were-wolf’s bark,

Until the soaring lark

      Sang from the meadow.

“But when I older grew,

Joining a corsair’s crew,

O’er the dark sea I flew

      With the marauders.

Wild was the life we led;

Many the souls that sped,

Many the hearts that bled,

      By our stern orders.

“Many a wassail-bout

Wore the long Winter out;

Often our midnight shout

      Set the cocks crowing,

As we the Berserk’s tale

Measured in cups of ale,

Draining the oaken pail,

      Filled to o’erflowing.

“Once as I told in glee

Tales of the stormy sea,

Soft eyes did gaze on me,

      Burning yet tender;

And as the white stars shine

On the dark Norway pine,

On that dark heart of mine

      Fell their soft splendor.

“I wooed the blue-eyed maid,

Yielding, yet half afraid,

And in the forest’s shade

      Our vows were plighted.

Under its loosened vest

Fluttered her little breast,

Like birds within their nest

      By the hawk frighted.

“Bright in her father’s hall

Shields gleamed upon the wall,

Loud sang the minstrels all,

      Chanting his glory;

When of old Hildebrand

I asked his daughter’s hand,

Mute did the minstrels stand

      To hear my story.

“While the brown ale he quaffed,

Loud then the champion laughed,

And as the wind-gusts waft

      The sea-foam brightly,

So the loud laugh of scorn,

Out of those lips unshorn,

From the deep drinking-horn

      Blew the foam lightly.

“She was a Prince’s child,

I but a Viking wild,

And though she blushed and smiled,

      I was discarded!

Should not the dove so white

Follow the sea-mew’s flight,

Why did they leave that night

      Her nest unguarded?

“Scarce had I put to sea,

Bearing the maid with me,

Fairest of all was she

      Among the Norsemen!

When on the white sea-strand,

Waving his armed hand,

Saw we old Hildebrand,

      With twenty horsemen.

“Then launched they to the blast,

Bent like a reed each mast,

Yet we were gaining fast,

      When the wind failed us;

And with a sudden flaw

Came round the gusty Skaw,

So that our foe we saw

      Laugh as he hailed us.

“And as to catch the gale

Round veered the flapping sail,

‘Death!’ was the helmsman’s hail,

      ‘Death without quarter!’

Mid-ships with iron keel

Struck we her ribs of steel;

Down her black hulk did reel

      Through the black water!

“As with his wings aslant,

Sails the fierce cormorant,

Seeking some rocky haunt,

      With his prey laden, —

So toward the open main,

Beating to sea again,

Through the wild hurricane,

      Bore I the maiden.

“Three weeks we westward bore,

And when the storm was o’er,

Cloud-like we saw the shore

      Stretching to leeward;

There for my lady’s bower

Built I the lofty tower,

Which, to this very hour,

   Stands looking seaward.

“There lived we many years;

Time dried the maiden’s tears;

She had forgot her fears,

      She was a mother;

Death closed her mild blue eyes,

Under that tower she lies;

Ne’er shall the sun arise

      On such another!

“Still grew my bosom then,

Still as a stagnant fen!

Hateful to me were men,

      The sunlight hateful!

In the vast forest here,

Clad in my warlike gear,

Fell I upon my spear,

      Oh, death was grateful!

“Thus, seamed with many scars,

Bursting these prison bars,

Up to its native stars

      My soul ascended!

There from the flowing bowl

Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,

Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”

      Thus the tale ended.

Quotable Quotes #10

If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze! – St. Catherine of Siena

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance. – Orville Wright, American inventor and aviator

Thought takes man out of servitude, into freedom. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. – Rudyard Kipling

A little kingdom I possess,

where thoughts and feelings dwell;

And very hard the task I find

of governing it well. – Louisa May Alcott, American writer

He was a wise man who invented beer. – Plato

Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live. – Mark Twain

Quotable Quotes #8

Experience does not err.  Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power. – Leonardo da Vinci

It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind. – Lucretius, Roman poet-philosopher

Do not worry as you have

built your castles in the air.

They are where they should be.

Now put the foundations under them. – Henry David Thoreau

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it. – Alexandre Dumas, French playwright and novelist

A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction. – Oscar Wilde

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. – William Shakespeare

The hottest love has the coldest end. – Socrates

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. – Aristotle

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), English novelist

Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet

Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Quotable Quotes #5

To love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way. – Plato

God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison, American inventor

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice. – William Shakespeare

Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet

The thoughtful soul to solitude retires. – Omar Khayyam, Persian philosopher-poet

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. – Plato

When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language. – John Donne

I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of imagination. – John Keats, English poet

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. – John Dryden

A thought often makes us hotter than a fire. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I count life just a stuff to try the soul’s strength on. – Robert Browning, English poet

Gracefulness is to the body what understanding is to the mind. – Francis de la Rochefoucauld

A heart in love with beauty never grows old. – Turkish proverb