The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 952 pages of information about The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

By what astrology of fear or hope
Dare I to cast thy horoscope! 
Like the new moon thy life appears;
A little strip of silver light,
And widening outward into night
The shadowy disk of future years;
And yet upon its outer rim,
A luminous circle, faint and dim,
And scarcely visible to us here,
Rounds and completes the perfect sphere;
A prophecy and intimation,
A pale and feeble adumbration,
Of the great world of light, that lies
Behind all human destinies.

Ah! if thy fate, with anguish fraught,
Should be to wet the dusty soil
With the hot tears and sweat of toil,—­
To struggle with imperious thought,
Until the overburdened brain,
Weary with labor, faint with pain,
Like a jarred pendulum, retain
Only its motion, not its power,—­
Remember, in that perilous hour,
When most afflicted and oppressed,
From labor there shall come forth rest.

And if a more auspicious fate
On thy advancing steps await
Still let it ever be thy pride
To linger by the laborer’s side;
With words of sympathy or song
To cheer the dreary march along
Of the great army of the poor,
O’er desert sand, o’er dangerous moor. 
Nor to thyself the task shall be
Without reward; for thou shalt learn
The wisdom early to discern
True beauty in utility;
As great Pythagoras of yore,
Standing beside the blacksmith’s door,
And hearing the hammers, as they smote
The anvils with a different note,
Stole from the varying tones, that hung
Vibrant on every iron tongue,
The secret of the sounding wire. 
And formed the seven-chorded lyre.

Enough!  I will not play the Seer;
I will no longer strive to ope
The mystic volume, where appear
The herald Hope, forerunning Fear,
And Fear, the pursuivant of Hope. 
Thy destiny remains untold;
For, like Acestes’ shaft of old,
The swift thought kindles as it flies,
And burns to ashes in the skies.

THE OCCULTATION OF ORION

I saw, as in a dream sublime,
The balance in the hand of Time. 
O’er East and West its beam impended;
And day, with all its hours of light,
Was slowly sinking out of sight,
While, opposite, the scale of night
Silently with the stars ascended.

Like the astrologers of eld,
In that bright vision I beheld
Greater and deeper mysteries. 
I saw, with its celestial keys,
Its chords of air, its frets of fire,
The Samian’s great Aeolian lyre,
Rising through all its sevenfold bars,
From earth unto the fixed stars. 
And through the dewy atmosphere,
Not only could I see, but hear,
Its wondrous and harmonious strings,
In sweet vibration, sphere by sphere,
From Dian’s circle light and near,
Onward to vaster and wider rings. 
Where, chanting through his beard of snows,
Majestic, mournful, Saturn goes,
And down the sunless realms of space
Reverberates the thunder of his bass.

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Project Gutenberg
The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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