Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  By the Fireside. The Singers

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

The Seaside and the Fireside

By the Fireside. The Singers

  • “November 6, 1849. Wrote The Singers to show the excellence of different kinds of song.” No individual poets were intended.

  • GOD sent his Singers upon earth

    With songs of sadness and of mirth,

    That they might touch the hearts of men,

    And bring them back to heaven again.

    The first, a youth with soul of fire,

    Held in his hand a golden lyre;

    Through groves he wandered, and by streams,

    Playing the music of our dreams.

    The second, with a bearded face,

    Stood singing in the market-place,

    And stirred with accents deep and loud

    The hearts of all the listening crowd.

    A gray old man, the third and last,

    Sang in cathedrals dim and vast,

    While the majestic organ rolled

    Contrition from its mouths of gold.

    And those who heard the Singers three

    Disputed which the best might be;

    For still their music seemed to start

    Discordant echoes in each heart.

    But the great Master said, “I see

    No best in kind, but in degree;

    I gave a various gift to each,

    To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

    “These are the three great chords of might,

    And he whose ear is tuned aright

    Will hear no discord in the three,

    But the most perfect harmony.”