Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

A Book of Sonnets

A Shadow

I SAID unto myself, if I were dead,

What would befall these children? What would be

Their fate, who now are looking up to me

For help and furtherance? Their lives, I said,

Would be a volume wherein I have read

But the first chapters, and no longer see

To read the rest of their dear history,

So full of beauty and so full of dread.

Be comforted; the world is very old,

And generations pass, as they have passed,

A troop of shadows moving with the sun;

Thousands of times has the old tale been told;

The world belongs to those who come the last,

They will find hope and strength as we have done.