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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tales of a Wayside Inn


Burn, O evening hearth, and waken
  Pleasant visions, as of old!
Though the house by winds be shaken,
  Safe I keep this room of gold!

Ah, no longer wizard Fancy
  Builds her castles in the air,
Luring me by necromancy
  Up the never-ending stair!

But, instead, she builds me bridges
  Over many a dark ravine,
Where beneath the gusty ridges
  Cataracts dash and roar unseen.

And I cross them, little heeding
  Blast of wind or torrent's roar,
As I follow the receding
  Footsteps that have gone before.

Naught avails the imploring gesture,
  Naught avails the cry of pain!
When I touch the flying vesture,
  'T is the gray robe of the rain.

Baffled I return, and, leaning
  O'er the parapets of cloud,
Watch the mist that intervening
  Wraps the valley in its shroud.

And the sounds of life ascending
  Faintly, vaguely, meet the ear,
Murmur of bells and voices blending
  With the rush of waters near.

Well I know what there lies hidden,
  Every tower and town and farm,
And again the land forbidden
  Reassumes its vanished charm.

Well I know the secret places,
  And the nests in hedge and tree;
At what doors are friendly faces,
  In what hearts are thoughts of me.

Through the mist and darkness sinking,
  Blown by wind and beaten by shower,
Down I fling the thought I'm thinking,
  Down I toss this Alpine flower.