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


From the French. On the Terrace of the Aigalades

By Joseph Méry

FROM this high portal, where upsprings

The rose to touch our hands in play,

We at a glance behold three things,—

The Sea, the Town, and the Highway.

And the Sea says: My shipwrecks fear;

I drown my best friends in the deep;

And those who braved my tempests, here

Among my sea-weeds lie asleep!

The Town says: I am filled and fraught

With tumult and with smoke and care;

My days with toil are overwrought,

And in my nights I gasp for air.

The Highway says: My wheel-tracks guide

To the pale climates of the North;

Where my last milestone stands abide

The people to their death gone forth.

Here in the shade this life of ours,

Full of delicious air, glides by

Amid a multitude of flowers

As countless as the stars on high;

These red-tiled roofs, this fruitful soil,

Bathed with an azure all divine,

Where springs the tree that gives us oil,

The grape that giveth us the wine;

Beneath these mountains stripped of trees,

Whose tops with flowers are covered o’er,

Where springtime of the Hesperides

Begins, but endeth nevermore;

Under these leafy vaults and walls,

That unto gentle sleep persuade;

This rainbow of the waterfalls,

Of mingled mist and sunshine made;

Upon these shores, where all invites,

We live our languid life apart;

This air is that of life’s delights,

The festival of sense and heart;

This limpid space of time prolong,

Forget to-morrow in to-day,

And leave unto the passing throng

The Sea, the Town, and the Highway.