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

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fourth. Travels by the Fireside

  • Written October 7, 1874, as introduction to the series of volumes, Poems of Places, edited by Mr. Longfellow.

  • THE CEASELESS rain is falling fast,

    And yonder gilded vane,

    Immovable for three days past,

    Points to the misty main.

    It drives me in upon myself

    And to the fireside gleams,

    To pleasant books that crowd my shelf,

    And still more pleasant dreams.

    I read whatever bards have sung

    Of lands beyond the sea,

    And the bright days when I was young

    Come thronging back to me.

    In fancy I can hear again

    The Alpine torrent’s roar,

    The mule-bells on the hills of Spain,

    The sea at Elsinore.

    I see the convent’s gleaming wall

    Rise from its groves of pine,

    And towers of old cathedrals tall,

    And castles by the Rhine.

    I journey on by park and spire,

    Beneath centennial trees,

    Through fields with poppies all on fire,

    And gleams of distant seas.

    I fear no more the dust and heat,

    No more I feel fatigue,

    While journeying with another’s feet

    O’er many a lengthening league.

    Let others traverse sea and land,

    And toil through various climes,

    I turn the world round with my hand

    Reading these poets’ rhymes.

    From them I learn whatever lies

    Beneath each changing zone,

    And see, when looking with their eyes,

    Better than with mine own.