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Title: A Day With Longfellow
Author: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882, Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Day With Longfellow" ***

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 DAYS WITH
 THE GREAT
 .POETS.

 LONGFELLOW


[Illustration: _Painting by A. E. Jackson._ THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.]

 Between the dark and the daylight,
     When the night is beginning to lower,
 Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
     That is known as the Children's Hour.

        *       *       *       *       *

 They climb up into my turret,
     O'er the arms and back of my chair;
 If I try to escape they surround me,
     They seem to be everywhere.



 A DAY WITH
 LONGFELLOW

 [Illustration: portrait of Longfellow]

 HODDER & STOUGHTON
 LTD., PUBLISHERS LONDON


_Uniform with this Volume_

_DAYS WITH THE POETS_

 BROWNING
 BURNS
 KEATS
 LONGFELLOW
 SHAKESPEARE
 TENNYSON

_DAYS WITH THE COMPOSERS_

 BEETHOVEN
 CHOPIN
 GOUNOD
 MENDELSSOHN
 TSCHAIKOVSKY
 WAGNER

_Made and Printed in Great Britain for Hodder & Stoughton, Limited,
by C. Tinling & Co., Ltd., Liverpool, London and Prescot._



A DAY WITH LONGFELLOW



The expression of serious and tender thoughtfulness, which always
characterized the quiet face of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, had deepened
during his later years, into something akin to melancholy. The tragic
loss of his beloved wife,--burned to death while she was sealing up in
paper little locks of her children's hair,--had left its permanent and
irrevocable mark upon his life. Still, he did not seclude himself with
his sorrow: the professor of Modern Languages at Harvard could hardly
do that. He remained the selfsame kindly, gentle, industrious man,
welcoming with ready courtesy the innumerable visitors to the Craigie
House.

This is a large old-fashioned house in Cambridge, Massachusetts--a place
of grassy terraces, long verandahs, lilac bushes, and shady trees--a
perfect dwelling for a man of cultured tastes, as the interior also
testifies.

From the Poet's study, a spacious, sunny room upon the ground floor,
he could look across the meadows behind the house to the distant
silver windings of the River Charles. It was a most orderly room.
Every book and paper lay where he could put his hand on it in a moment.
Book-cases full of valuable volumes--precious first editions--busts and
portraits,--were to be seen on every side. A certain austere simplicity
was noticeable all over Longfellow's house. "His private rooms," it has
been said, "were like those of a German professor." But the attractiveness
and delightfulness of Craigie House arose not from any intrinsic
opulence of its contents, but from the personality of the man who lived
there. "By his mere presence he rendered the sunshine brighter, and the
place more radiant of kindness and peace."

The Poet began his day, so long as age and health permitted, by a brisk
morning walk. He would be out and about by six, observing and enjoying
the beauty of earth and air, and subsequently recording his exquisite
impressions:

 O Gift of God! O perfect day:
 Whereon shall no man work, but play;
 Whereon it is enough for me,
 Not to be doing, but to be!

 Through every fibre of my brain,
 Through every nerve, through every vein,
 I feel the electric thrill, the touch
 Of life, that seems almost too much.

 I hear the wind among the trees
 Playing celestial symphonies;
 I see the branches downward bent,
 Like keys of some great instrument.

 And over me unrolls on high
 The splendid scenery of the sky,
 Where through a sapphire sea the sun
 Sails like a golden galleon,

 Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
 Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
 Whose steep sierra far uplifts
 Its craggy summits white with drifts.

 Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
 The snowflakes of the cherry-blooms!
 Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
 The fiery blossoms of the peach!

 O Life and Love! O happy throng
 Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
 O heart of man! canst thou not be
 Blithe as the air is, and as free?
                _A Day of Sunshine._

The morning's post brought the first consignment of that enormous number
of epistles which were at once an affliction and an amusement to him.
The Poet was besieged by letters from ambitious aspirants seeking advice,
and from self-styled failures, desirous of help. To these last he was
peculiarly drawn, for he was distinguished by "a grace almost peculiar
to himself at the time in which he lived--his tenderness towards the
undeveloped artist, struggling towards individual expression." In short,
his first desire was to help on people, and bring out the best in them.

Of apparent failure or success he recked little, believing, like
Stevenson, that the true success is labour,--that pursuit, and not
attainment is the worthiest object of existence; and his philosophy is
summed up in the well-known words of _The Ladder of Saint Augustine_,


 Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
     That of our vices we can frame
 A ladder, if we will but tread
     Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

 All common things, each day's events,
     That with the hour begin and end,
 Our pleasures and our discontents,
     Are rounds by which we may ascend.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The longing for ignoble things;
     The strife for triumph more than truth;
 The hardening of the heart, that brings
     Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

 All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
     That have their root in thoughts of ill;
 Whatever hinders or impedes
     The action of the nobler will;--

 All these must first be trampled down
     Beneath our feet, if we would gain
 In the bright fields of fair renown
     The right of eminent domain.

 We have not wings, we cannot soar;
     But we have feet to scale and climb
 By slow degrees, by more and more,
     The cloudy summits of our time.

 The mighty pyramids of stone
     That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
 When nearer seen and better known,
     Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

 The distant mountains that uprear
     Their solid bastions to the skies,
 Are crossed by pathways, that appear
     As we to higher levels rise.

 The heights by great men reached and kept
     Were not attained by sudden flight,
 But they, while their companions slept,
     Were toiling upward in the night.

 Standing on what too long we bore
     With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
 We may discern--unseen before--
     A path to higher destinies.

 Nor deem the irrevocable Past
     As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
 If rising on its wrecks, at last
     To something nobler we attain.


Constant requests for autographs formed the bulk of the day's budget,
and these also never went unanswered--even when couched in terms the
most _mal à propos_, much as those of the man who said that "he
loved poetry in 'most any style,"--"and would you please copy your
'Break, break, break' for the writer?" Possibly the worst offenders, in
this matter of autograph-hunting, were those multitudinous schoolgirls
of whom Longfellow humorously complained that he was always "kept busy
answering." They ignored the fact of his professional duties, and his
own unremitting work; anything to get a reply in the handwriting of the
celebrity! But he had a special delight in budding womanhood, and had
depicted it with magical insight and rare delicacy of touch, in lines
which have never been excelled in their charm and purity.


 Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes
 In whose orbs a shadow lies,
 Like the dusk in evening skies!

 Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
 Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
 As the braided streamlets run!

 Standing, with reluctant feet,
 Where the brook and river meet,
 Womanhood and childhood fleet!

 Seest thou shadows sailing by,
 As the dove, with startled eye,
 Sees the falcon's shadow fly?

 Hearest thou voices on the shore,
 That our ears perceive no more,
 Deafened by the cataract's roar?

 O, thou child of many prayers!
 Life hath quicksands,--Life hath snares!
 Care and age come unawares!

 Like the swell of some sweet tune,
 Morning rises into noon,
 May glides onward into June.

 Childhood is the bough, where slumbered
 Birds and blossoms many-numbered;--
 Age, that bough with snows encumbered.

 Gather, then, each flower that grows,
 When the young heart overflows,
 To embalm that tent of snows.

 Bear a lily in thy hand;
 Gates of brass cannot withstand
 One touch of that magic wand.

 Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
 In thy heart the dew of youth,
 On thy lips the seal of truth.

 O, that dew, like balm shall steal
 Into wounds that cannot heal,
 Even as sleep our eyes doth seal;

 And that smile, like sunshine, dart
 Into many a sunless heart,
 For a smile of God thou art.

                       _Maidenhood._


[Illustration: _Painting by W. H. Margetson._ MAIDENHOOD.]

 Maiden with the meek, brown eyes
 In whose orbs a shadow lies,
 Like the dusk in evening skies!

 Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
 Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
 As the braided streamlets run!


The early instalment of letters attended to, the Poet could devote
himself to his own affairs. He believed in _working_ at poetry,
methodically, systematically: although inspiration might flow with
sudden fervour, it was not to be waited for. "Regular, proportioned,
resolute, incessant industry," was the secret of his success, and the
erasures and substitutions in his MSS. bear witness to his care in
craftsmanship. The least conspicuous word must be as perfect as he
could make it. Longfellow's creed, as expounded in _The Builders_,
allowed for no scamped work.


 All are architects of Fate,
     Working in these walls of Time:
 Some with massive deeds and great,
     Some with ornaments of rhyme.

 Nothing useless is, or low;
     Each thing in its place is best;
 And what seems but idle show
     Strengthens and supports the rest.

 For the structure that we raise,
     Time is with materials filled;
 Our to-days and yesterdays
     Are the blocks with which we build.

 Truly shape and fashion these;
     Leave no yawning gaps between;
 Think not, because no man sees,
     Such things will remain unseen.

 In the elder days of Art,
     Builders wrought with greatest care
 Each minute and unseen part;
     For the Gods see everywhere.

 Let us do our work as well,
     Both the unseen and the seen;
 Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
     Beautiful, entire, and clean.

 Else our lives are incomplete,
     Standing in these walls of Time,
 Broken stairways, where the feet
     Stumble as they seek to climb.

 Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
     With a firm and ample base;
 And ascending and secure
     Shall to-morrow find its place.

 Thus alone can we attain
     To those turrets, where the eye
 Sees the world as one vast plain,
     And one boundless reach of sky.

                           _The Builders._


Work, indeed, whether mental or physical, was his first instinct, and
he has preached the gospel of honest work to the whole English-speaking
world in some of the most familiar lines in the language.


 Under a spreading chestnut tree
     The village smithy stands;
 The smith, a mighty man is he,
     With large and sinewy hands;
 And the muscles of his brawny arms
     Are strong as iron bands.

 His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
     His face is like the tan;
 His brow is wet with honest sweat,
     He earns whate'er he can,
 And looks the whole world in the face,
     For he owes not any man.

 Week in, week out, from morn till night,
     You can hear his bellows blow;
 You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
     With measured beat and slow,
 Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
     When the evening sun is low.

 And children coming home from school
     Look in at the open door:
 They love to see the flaming forge,
     And hear the bellows roar,
 And catch the burning sparks that fly
     Like chaff from a threshing floor.

 He goes on Sunday to the church,
     And sits among his boys;
 He hears the parson pray and preach,
     He hears his daughter's voice,
 Singing in the village choir,
     And it makes his heart rejoice.

 It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
     Singing in Paradise!
 He needs must think of her once more,
     How in the grave she lies;
 And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
     A tear out of his eyes.

 Toiling,--rejoicing,--sorrowing,
     Onward through life he goes;
 Each morning sees some task begin,
     Each evening sees it close;
 Something attempted, something done,
     Has earned a night's repose.

 Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
     For the lesson thou hast taught!
 Thus at the flaming forge of life
     Our fortune must be wrought;
 Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
     Each burning deed and thought!

                _The Village Blacksmith._


[Illustration: _Painting by Dudley Tennant._ THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.]

 And children coming home from school
     Look in at the open door:
 They love to see the flaming forge,
     And hear the bellows roar,
 And catch the burning sparks that fly
     Like chaff from a threshing floor.


Not for long, however, might Longfellow remain undisturbed in his
sunny room. Sometimes he welcomed the opening door that saw "a little
figure stealing gently in, laying an arm round his neck as he bent over
his work, and softly whispering some childish secret in his ear." For
this was no obstacle to the current of his tranquil thoughts. "My little
girls are flitting about my study," he wrote to a friend, "as blithe as
two birds. They are preparing to celebrate the birthday of one of their
dolls.... What a beautiful world this child's world is! I take infinite
delight in seeing it go on all around me."

It was with absolute sincerity that he had exclaimed:


 Come to me, O ye children!
     For I hear you at your play,
 And the questions that perplexed me
     Have vanished quite away.

 Ye open the eastern windows,
     That look towards the sun,
 Where thoughts are singing swallows,
     And the brooks of morning run.

 In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
     In your thoughts the brooklet's flow;
 But in mine is the wind of Autumn,
     And the first fall of the snow.

 Ah! what would the world be to us,
     If the children were no more?
 We should dread the desert behind us
     Worse than the dark before.

 What the leaves are to the forest,
     With light and air for food,
 Ere their sweet and tender juices
     Have been hardened into wood,--

 That to the world are children;
     Through them it feels the glow
 Of a brighter and sunnier climate
     Than reaches the trunks below

 Come to me, O ye children!
     And whisper in my ear
 What the birds and the winds are singing
     In your sunny atmosphere.

 For what are all our contrivings,
     And the wisdom of our books,
 When compared with your caresses,
     And the gladness of your looks?

 Ye are better than all the ballads
     That ever were sung or said;
 For ye are living poems,
     And all the rest are dead.

                        _Children._

But these were congenial moments. There were visitors much less
desirable. "He was besieged," as one of his friends declares, "by every
possible form of interruption which the ingenuity of the human brain
could devise." For his admirers, whose name was legion, were not
satisfied with hero-worship afar off: they must needs force themselves
into his presence, and express their admiration _vivâ-voce_. Most
amazing folks swooped suddenly down upon him, ruthless and unabashed.

Longfellow, always quick to see the comical side of a situation, would
tell with great delight strange tales of his unexpected guests. "One
man," he said, "a perfect stranger, came with an omnibus full of ladies.
He introduced himself, then returning to the omnibus, took out all the
ladies, one, two, three, four, five, with a little girl, and brought
them in. I entertained them to the best of my ability, and they stayed
an hour."

On another occasion, an English gentleman, with no letter of introduction,
abruptly introduced himself, thus: "In other countries, you know, we go
to see ruins, and the like--but you have no ruins in your country, and I
thought," growing embarrassed, "I would call and see _you_!" Another
strange gentleman accosted him with great fervour, "Mr. Longfellow, I
have long desired the honour of knowing you. I am one of _the few men_
who have read your _Evangeline_!"

All these worshippers at his shrine were received by the Poet with his
unfailing courtesy and patience; but he was invariably adroit in warding
off compliments. To applause and flattery he was impervious--reference
to his own works was distasteful to him. His perfect modesty was the
reflex of his natural reticence.

Longfellow regarded life from the standpoint of eternity, and thus
was one who, in the words of à Kempis, "careth little for the praise
or dispraise of men." His gaze was riveted upon that "Land of the
Hereafter," to which he was always more than ready to set out, and in
the departure of Hiawatha he had imaged his longing for the "Happiest
Land."


     On the shore stood Hiawatha,
 Turned and waved his hand at parting;
 On the clear and luminous water
 Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
 From the pebbles of the margin
 Shoved it forth into the water;
 Whispered to it "Westward! westward!"
 And with speed it darted forward.

     And the evening sun descending
 Set the clouds on fire with redness,
 Burned the broad sky, like a prairie,
 Left upon the level water
 One long track and trail of splendour,
 Down whose stream, as down a river,
 Westward, westward Hiawatha
 Sailed into the fiery sunset,
 Sailed into the purple vapours,
 Sailed into the dusk of evening.

     And the people from the margin
 Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
 Till the birch canoe seemed lifted
 High into that sea of splendour,
 Till it sank into the vapours
 Like the new moon slowly, slowly
 Sinking in the purple distance.

     And they said "Farewell for ever!"
 Said "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
 And the forests, dark and lonely,
 Moved through all their depths of darkness,
 Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
 And the waves upon the margin
 Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
 Sobbed "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
 And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
 From her haunts among the fenlands,
 Screamed "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"

     Thus departed Hiawatha,
 Hiawatha the Beloved,
 In the glory of the sunset,
 In the purple mists of evening,
 To the regions of the home-wind,
 Of the Northwest wind Keewaydin,
 To the Islands of the Blessed,
 To the kingdom of Ponemah,
 To the land of the Hereafter!

                     _Hiawatha._


[Illustration: _Painting by J. Finnemore._ HIAWATHA.]

     And the evening sun descending....
 Left upon the level water
 One long track and trail of splendour,
 Down whose stream as down a river,
 Westward, westward Hiawatha
 Sailed into the fiery sunset,
 Sailed into the purple vapours,
 Sailed into the dusk of evening.


Personal friends, of whom the Poet possessed many, would arrive in
time for lunch, and be welcomed by the master of Craigie House at the
gate in the lilac hedge. He would bring them into the large, cheerful
dining-room, and the children would sit at a little table on the
verandah, while the host, with his own hands, set the copper kettle
singing, and made tea in the antique silver pot.

It was a peaceful, happy hour for the guests. Longfellow, unlike
Tennyson, was never much of a talker: he was a listener and observer,
who dwelt in a speaking silence--in what has been defined as a heavenly
unfathomableness. Ruskin had written: "You come as such a _calm_
influence to me ... you give me such a feeling of friendship and repose."
And this feeling was enhanced by the man's natural dignity and grace,
the refinement of his features, the perfect taste of his dress, and
the exquisite simplicity of his manners. Many have alluded to his soft,
musical voice, to his steady blue-grey eyes, to the "innate charm of
tranquillity," which gave a peculiar spiritual sweetness to his smile.
But the man was even more, and better than the poet; so much so that a
young enthusiast exclaimed "All the vulgar and pretentious people in the
world ought to be sent to Mr. Longfellow to show them how to behave!"
Nor was this calm the outcome of natural placidity--it had been attained
through bitter suffering: it was that gleam of a hero's armour which the
"red planet Mars" unveils to a tear-dimmed sight, when


 The night is come, but not too soon;
     And sinking silently,
 All silently, the little moon
     Drops down behind the sky.

 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?
 O no! from that blue tent above,
     A hero's armour 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.

 O fear not in a world like this,
     And thou shalt know ere long,
 Know how sublime a thing it is
     To suffer and be strong.

                 _The Light of Stars._


After lunch, the guests would be taken round the house, and its various
treasures pointed out: books in every corner, and on every wall pictures
and portraits; antique furniture, interesting mementoes of every sort.
It was a home well worth seeing: and an old-world air pervaded all,
from the quaint drawing-room, with its old-fashioned, rose-festooned
wall-paper, to the upper rooms with the Dutch-tiled hearths.

Later on, to those with whom he felt specially _en rapport_, Longfellow
would read aloud some poems, new or old, his own, or those of other men.
He was not a forcible or a dramatic reader; the simplicity which he
loved "in all things," as he had said, "but specially in poetry," was
evident also here. Yet perhaps no other man could have done equal justice
to the lingering hexameters of his most successful poem--for such, by
reason of its novelty, pathos, and beauty, _Evangeline_ must always be
considered. "It has become a purifying portion," says Rossetti, "of the
experiences of the heart ... a long-drawn sweetness and sadness"; and,
though sixty years have elapsed since _Evangeline_ first appeared, the
ideal maiden of this "idyll of the heart" has lost no fraction of her
loveliness.


 Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
 Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the
                                                              wayside,
 Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her
                                                              tresses!
 Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
 When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noon-tide
 Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden.
 Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
 Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop
 Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
 Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her
                                                               missal,
 Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings,
 Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heir-loom,
 Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
 But a celestial brightness--a more ethereal beauty--
 Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
 Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
 When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.

                                                       _Evangeline._


In the course of the afternoon, some of the Poet's guests taking leave,
others would accompany him to a concert, organ recital, or any other
musical function which might be available. Longfellow was passionately
fond of good music, and lost no opportunity of hearing it. His own
lyrics are singularly susceptible, as all composers know, of an adequate
musical setting.


[Illustration: _Painting by H. M. Brock._ EVANGELINE.]

 But a celestial brightness--a more ethereal beauty--
 Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
 Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
 When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.


Few short poems in the world have been so often sung as "Stars of
the summer night"--"Good-night, beloved"--"The rainy day"--and other
well-known verses. A most effective sense of sound and rhythm, joined
with perfect simplicity of diction, evince the inherent artistry of a
man who was no musician in the technical sense, but who could express
himself in such lines as


 The night is calm and cloudless,
 And still as still can be,
 And the stars come forth to listen
 To the music of the sea.
 They gather, and gather, and gather,
 Until they crowd the sky,
 And listen in breathless silence,
 To the solemn litany.
 It begins in rocky caverns,
 As a voice that chants alone
 To the pedals of the organ
 In monotonous undertone;
 And anon from shelving beaches
 And shallow sands beyond,
 In snow-white robes uprising
 The ghostly choirs respond.
 And sadly and unceasing
 The mournful voice sings on,
 And the snow-white choirs still answer
 Christe eleison!

                _The Golden Legend._


After dinner, to which perhaps an intimate friend or two remained,
the poet would remain awhile in his study: not actually at work, for
his writing was only done in the morning hours, but considering and
criticising work already accomplished, and carefully perusing that great
translation of Dante which he considered, rightly or wrongly, as the
most important work of his life. The twilight would slowly fade into the
dusk of a "blindman's holiday," and then came the sweetest moment of the
day.

Longfellow's intense affection for all little ones, his touching
kindness to them, his sympathy with their most trivial joys or troubles,
were focussed and centred in the love he bore to his own dear,
motherless children.


 Between the dark and the daylight,
     When the night is beginning to lower,
 Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
     That is known as the Children's Hour.

 I hear in the chamber above me
     The patter of little feet,
 The sound of a door that is opened,
     And voices soft and sweet.

 From my study I see in the lamplight,
     Descending the broad hall-stair,
 Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
     And Edith with golden hair.

 A whisper, and then a silence:
     Yet I know by their merry eyes
 They are plotting and planning together
     To take me by surprise.

 A sudden rush from the stairway,
     A sudden raid from the hall!
 By three doors left unguarded
     They enter my castle wall!

 They climb up into my turret,
     O'er the arms and back of my chair;
 If I try to escape they surround me;
     They seem to be everywhere.

 They almost devour me with kisses,
     Their arms about me entwine,
 Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
     In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

 Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
     Because you have scaled the wall,
 Such an old moustache as I am
     Is not a match for you all!

 I have you fast in my fortress,
     And will not let you depart,
 But put you down in the dungeon
     In the round-tower of my heart.

 And there I will keep you for ever,
     Yes, for ever and a day,
 Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
     And moulder in dust away!

                    _The Children's Hour._


A brief period of childish gaiety would supervene, to which the man of
childlike heart responded readily; and when the little feet had pattered
bedward, and the house was silent from the merry little voices, the
father would sit on until midnight in his spacious empty room. He would
occupy himself with letters--long, fragrant, pleasant gossips to his
best and most familiar friends at a distance: till midnight came upon
him unawares. "It is nearly one o'clock--I am the only person up in the
house: my candle is sinking in its socket."

And a double loneliness descended upon him as his weary hand laid
down the pen. He remained inert and brooding; the solitude was
almost tangible. But this solitude was presently peopled by visions,
fraught with ineffable consolation to a mind never out of touch with
"other-worldly" influences.


 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 parlour 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,
 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.

 O, though oft depressed and lonely,
     All my fears are laid aside,
 If I but remember only
     Such as these have lived and died!

                    _Footsteps of Angels._

"_Empty_ is a horrid word," the Poet had written to a friend--but the
room is no longer empty. It has become a habitation for other visitants
than the motley throng of flatterers impelled by curiosity, who hindered
his morning hours. Unspoken benedictions lie thick upon the air--the
man's griefs are soothed away by the touch of invisible fingers. Patient,
unselfish, indomitable, he resumes the burden of his daily life with new
hope and courage for the morrow.


 As torrents in summer,
 Half dried in their channels,
 Suddenly rise, though the
 Sky is still cloudless,
 For rain has been falling
 Far off at their fountains;

 So hearts that are fainting
 Grow full to o'erflowing,
 And they that behold it
 Marvel, and know not
 That God at their fountains
 Far off has been raining.

            _Tales of a Wayside Inn._





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