Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part First. The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf. XXII. The Nun of Nidaros

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

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part First. The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf. XXII. The Nun of Nidaros

IN the convent of Drontheim,

Alone in her chamber

Knelt Astrid the Abbess,

At midnight, adoring,

Beseeching, entreating

The Virgin and Mother.

She heard in the silence

The voice of one speaking,

Without in the darkness,

In gusts of the night-wind,

Now louder, now nearer,

Now lost in the distance.

The voice of a stranger

It seemed as she listened,

Of some one who answered

Beseeching, imploring,

A cry from afar off

She could not distinguish.

The voice of Saint John,

The beloved disciple,

Who wandered and waited

The Master’s appearance,

Alone in the darkness,

Unsheltered and friendless.

“It is accepted,

The angry defiance,

The challenge of battle!

It is accepted,

But not with the weapons

Of war that thou wieldest!

“Cross against corselet,

Love against hatred,

Peace-cry for war-cry!

Patience is powerful;

He that o’ercometh

Hath power o’er the nations!

“As torrents in summer,

Half dried in their channels,

Suddenly rise, though the

Sky is still cloudless,

For rain has been falling

Far off at their fountains;

“So hearts that are fainting

Grow full to o’erflowing,

And they that behold it

Marvel, and know not

That God at their fountains

Far off has been raining!

“Stronger than steel

Is the sword of the Spirit;

Swifter than arrows

The light of the truth is,

Greater than anger

Is love, and subdueth!

“Thou art a phantom,

A shape of the sea-mist,

A shape of the brumal

Rain, and the darkness

Fearful and formless;

Day dawns and thou art not!

“The dawn is not distant,

Nor is the night starless;

Love is eternal!

God is still God, and

His faith shall not fail us;

Christ is eternal!”