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

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Poems. Old St. David’s at Radnor

  • At the time of the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, Mr. Longfellow, who was a visitor, established himself with his family at Rosemont, a few miles from the city, in the immediate neighborhood of which is the old church of St. David’s, the outgrowth of an English mission of Queen Anne’s time.

  • WHAT an image of peace and rest

    Is this little church among its graves!

    All is so quiet; the troubled breast,

    The wounded spirit, the heart oppressed,

    Here may find the repose it craves.

    See, how the ivy climbs and expands

    Over this humble hermitage,

    And seems to caress with its little hands

    The rough, gray stones, as a child that stands

    Caressing the wrinkled cheeks of age!

    You cross the threshold; and dim and small

    Is the space that serves for the Shepherd’s Fold;

    The narrow aisle, the bare, white wall,

    The pews, and the pulpit quaint and tall,

    Whisper and say: “Alas! we are old.”

    Herbert’s chapel at Bemerton

    Hardly more spacious is than this;

    But poet and pastor, blent in one,

    Clothed with a splendor, as of the sun,

    That lowly and holy edifice.

    It is not the wall of stone without

    That makes the building small or great,

    But the soul’s light shining round about,

    And the faith that overcometh doubt,

    And the love that stronger is than hate.

    Were I a pilgrim in search of peace,

    Were I a pastor of Holy Church,

    More than a Bishop’s diocese

    Should I prize this place of rest and release

    From further longing and further search.

    Here would I stay, and let the world

    With its distant thunder roar and roll;

    Storms do not rend the sail that is furled;

    Nor like a dead leaf, tossed and whirled

    In an eddy of wind, is the anchored soul.