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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tales of a Wayside Inn


The cabin windows have grown blank
  As eyeballs of the dead;
No more the glancing sunbeams burn
On the gilt letters of the stern,
  But on the figure-head;

On Valdemar Victorious,
  Who looketh with disdain
To see his image in the tide
Dismembered float from side to side,
  And reunite again.

"It is the wind," those skippers said,
  "That swings the vessel so;
It is the wind; it freshens fast,
'T is time to say farewell at last
  'T is time for us to go."

They shook the captain by the hand,
  "Goodluck! goodluck!" they cried;
Each face was like the setting sun,
As, broad and red, they one by one
  Went o'er the vessel's side.

The sun went down, the full moon rose,
  Serene o'er field and flood;
And all the winding creeks and bays
And broad sea-meadows seemed ablaze,
  The sky was red as blood.

The southwest wind blew fresh and fair,
  As fair as wind could be;
Bound for Odessa, o'er the bar,
With all sail set, the Valdemar
  Went proudly out to sea.

The lovely moon climbs up the sky
  As one who walks in dreams;
A tower of marble in her light,
A wall of black, a wall of white,
  The stately vessel seems.

Low down upon the sandy coast
  The lights begin to burn;
And now, uplifted high in air,
They kindle with a fiercer glare,
  And now drop far astern.

The dawn appears, the land is gone,
  The sea is all around;
Then on each hand low hills of sand
Emerge and form another land;
  She steereth through the Sound.

Through Kattegat and Skager-rack
  She flitteth like a ghost;
By day and night, by night and day,
She bounds, she flies upon her way
  Along the English coast.

Cape Finisterre is drawing near,
  Cape Finisterre is past;
Into the open ocean stream
She floats, the vision of a dream
  Too beautiful to last.

Suns rise and set, and rise, and yet
  There is no land in sight;
The liquid planets overhead
Burn brighter now the moon is dead,
  And longer stays the night.