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

In the Harbor


AS a pale phantom with a lamp

Ascends some ruin’s haunted stair,

So glides the moon along the damp

Mysterious chambers of the air.

Now hidden in cloud, and now revealed,

As if this phantom, full of pain,

Were by the crumbling walls concealed,

And at the windows seen again.

Until at last, serene and proud

In all the splendor of her light,

She walks the terraces of cloud,

Supreme as Empress of the Night.

I look, but recognize no more

Objects familiar to my view;

The very pathway to my door

Is an enchanted avenue.

All things are changed. One mass of shade,

The elm-trees drop their curtains down;

By palace, park, and colonnade

I walk as in a foreign town.

The very ground beneath my feet

Is clothed with a diviner air;

While marble paves the silent street

And glimmers in the empty square.

Illusion! Underneath there lies

The common life of every day;

Only the spirit glorifies

With its own tints the sober gray.

In vain we look, in vain uplift

Our eyes to heaven, if we are blind;

We see but what we have the gift

Of seeing; what we bring we find.