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



  • May 23, 1864
  • The date is that of the burial of Hawthorne. The poem was written just a month later. Mr. Longfellow wrote to Mr. Fields: “I send you a poem, premising that I have not seen Holmes’s article in the Atlantic. I hope we have not been singing and saying the same things. I have only tried to describe the state of mind I was in on that day. Did you not feel so likewise?” In sending a copy of the lines at the same time to Mrs. Hawthorne, he wrote: “I feel how imperfect and inadequate they are; but I trust you will pardon their deficiencies for the love I bear his memory.”

  • HOW beautiful it was, that one bright day

    In the long week of rain!

    Though all its splendor could not chase away

    The omnipresent pain.

    The lovely town was white with apple-blooms,

    And the great elms o’erhead

    Dark shadows wove on their aerial looms

    Shot through with golden thread.

    Across the meadows, by the gray old manse,

    The historic river flowed:

    I was as one who wanders in a trance,

    Unconscious of his road.

    The faces of familiar friends seemed strange;

    Their voices I could hear,

    And yet the words they uttered seemed to change

    Their meaning to my ear.

    For the one face I looked for was not there,

    The one low voice was mute;

    Only an unseen presence filled the air,

    And baffled my pursuit.

    Now I look back, and meadow, manse, and stream

    Dimly my thought defines;

    I only see—a dream within a dream—

    The hill-top hearsed with pines.

    I only hear above his place of rest

    Their tender undertone,

    The infinite longings of a troubled breast,

    The voice so like his own.

    There in seclusion and remote from men

    The wizard hand lies cold,

    Which at its topmost speed let fall the pen,

    And left the tale half told.

    Ah! who shall lift that wand of magic power,

    And the lost clew regain?

    The unfinished window in Aladdin’s tower

    Unfinished must remain!