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HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

1807-1882

694                                          My Lost Youth

OFTEN I think of the beautiful town
  That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
  And my youth comes back to me.
    And a verse of a Lapland song
    Is haunting my memory still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
  And catch, in sudden gleams,
The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,
And islands that were the Hesperides
  Of all my boyish dreams.
    And the burden of that old song,
    It murmurs and whispers still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I remember the black wharves and the slips,
  And the sea-tides tossing free;
And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,
And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
  And the magic of the sea.
    And the voice of that wayward song
    Is singing and saying still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I remember the bulwarks by the shore,
  And the fort upon the hill;
The sunrise gun with its hollow roar,
The drum-beat repeated oer and oer,
  And the bugle wild and shrill.
    And the music of that old song
    Throbs in my memory still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I remember the sea-fight far away,
  How it thunderd oer the tide!
And the dead sea-captains, as they lay
In their graves oerlooking the tranquil bay
  Where they in battle died.
    And the sound of that mournful song
    Goes through me with a thrill:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I can see the breezy dome of groves,
  The shadows of Deerings woods;
And the friendships old and the early loves
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
  In quiet neighbourhoods.
    And the verse of that sweet old song,
    It flutters and murmurs still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
  Across the schoolboys brain;
The song and the silence in the heart,
That in part are prophecies, and in part
  Are longings wild and vain.
    And the voice of that fitful song
    Sings on, and is never still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
There are things of which I may not speak;
  There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
  And a mist before the eye.
    And the words of that fatal song
    Come over me like a chill:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
Strange to me now are the forms I meet
  When I visit the dear old town;
But the native air is pure and sweet,
And the trees that oershadow each well-known street,
  As they balance up and down,
    Are singing the beautiful song,
    Are sighing and whispering still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
And Deerings woods are fresh and fair,
  And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were
  I find my lost youth again.
    And the strange and beautiful song,
    The groves are repeating it still:
    A boys will is the winds will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.

695                                   The Galley of Count Arnaldos

AH! what pleasant visions haunt me
    As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
    All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
    Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
    And the answer from the shore!
Most of all, the Spanish ballad
    Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
    And the sailors mystic song.
Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
    With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
    Steering onward to the land;
How he heard the ancient helmsman
    Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
    Poised upon the mast to hear.
Till his soul was full of longing,
    And he cried, with impulse strong,
Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
    Teach me, too, that wondrous song!
Wouldst thou,so the helmsman answered,
    Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
    Comprehend its mystery!

696                                                Chaucer

AN old man in a lodge within a park;
    The chamber walls depicted all around
    With portraitures of huntsman, hawk, and hound,
    And the hurt deer. He listeneth to the lark,
Whose song comes with the sunshine through the dark
     Of painted glass in leaden lattice bound;
    He listeneth and he laugheth at the sound,
    Then writeth in a book like any clerk.
He is the poet of the dawn, who wrote
    The Canterbury Tales, and his old age
    Made beautiful with song; and as I read
I hear the crowing cock, I hear the note
    Of lark and linnet, and from every page
    Rise odours of ploughd field or flowery mead.

697                                                Dante

OFT have I seen at some cathedral door
    A labourer, pausing in the dust and heat,
    Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet
    Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor
Kneel to repeat his paternoster oer;
    Far off the noises of the world retreat;
    The loud vociferations of the street
    Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
    And leave my burden at this minster gate,
    Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
    To inarticulate murmurs dies away,
    While the eternal ages watch and wait.

 

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