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

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part Second. Interlude

WELL pleased the audience heard the tale.

The Theologian said: “Indeed,

To praise you there is little need;

One almost hears the farmer’s flail

Thresh out your wheat, nor does there fail

A certain freshness, as you said,

And sweetness as of home-made bread.

But not less sweet and not less fresh

Are many legends that I know,

Writ by the monks of long-ago,

Who loved to mortify the flesh,

So that the soul might purer grow,

And rise to a diviner state;

And one of these—perhaps of all

Most beautiful—I now recall,

And with permission will narrate;

Hoping thereby to make amends

For that grim tragedy of mine,

As strong and black as Spanish wine,

I told last night, and wish almost

It had remained untold, my friends;

For Torquemada’s awful ghost

Came to me in the dreams I dreamed,

And in the darkness glared and gleamed

Like a great lighthouse on the coast.”

The Student laughing said: “Far more

Like to some dismal fire of bale

Flaring portentous on a hill;

Or torches lighted on a shore

By wreckers in a midnight gale.

No matter; be it as you will,

Only go forward with your tale.”