HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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 interweaves

In one unbroken roof of leaves, 10
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 me
Clapped their little hands in glee,
With one continuous sound;—

A slumberous sound, a sound that brings

The feelings of a dream, 120
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; 30

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 throng
I feel the freshness of the streams,

That, crossed by shades and sunny gleams, 40
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! 50
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;
Oh, I could not choose but go

Into the woodlands hoar,— 60

Into the blithe and breathing air, Into the solemn wood,
Solemn and silent everywhere!
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling 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, 70
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.

-287-

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Major American Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Philip Freneau 1
  • William Cullen Bryant 61
  • John Greenleaf Whittier 105
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 191
  • Edgar Allan Poe 243
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 287
  • James Russell Lowell 435
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes 543
  • Emily Dickinson 603
  • Sidney Lanier 611
  • Walt Whitman 651
  • Vachel Lindsay 733
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson 755
  • Notes Chronological, Bibliographical, Critical 779
  • William Cullen Bryant 788
  • John Greenleaf Whittier 798
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 817
  • Edgar Alian Poe 834
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 847
  • James Russell Lowell 860
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes 882
  • Emily Dickinson 893
  • Sidney Lanier 903
  • Walt Whitman 914
  • Vachel Lindsay 929
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson 938
  • General Principles of Poetics 948
  • General Index 951
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