Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Between the dark and the daylight,

When 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 intwine,
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 mustache I

Is not a match for you all ?

as

am

I have you fast in my fortress,

And will not let you depart,
But put you into the dungeon

In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,

Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,

And moulder in dust away.

GOD'S-ACRE

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls

The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just; It consecrates each grave within its walls,

And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts

Comfort to those who in the grave have sown The seed that they had garnered in their hearts, Their bread of life, alas! no more their own.

Into its furrows shall we all be cast,

In the sure faith that we shall rise again
At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast

Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain.

Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom,

In the fair gardens of that second birth; And each bright blossom mingle its perfume.

With that of flowers which never bloomed on earth.

With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,

And spread the furrow for the seed we sow; This is the field and Acre of our God,

This is the place where human harvests grow!

A PSALM OF LIFE

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act, - act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
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.

RESIGNATION

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

There is no flock, however watched and tended,

But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,

But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,

And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,

Will not be comforted!

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions

Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions

Assume this dark disguise.

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;

Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers

May be heaven's distant lamps.

There is no Death! What seems so is transition:

This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,

Whose portal we call Death.

She is not dead, the child of our affection, But

gone into that school Where she no longer needs our poor protection, And Christ himself doth rule.

« PreviousContinue »