Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Poems. The Chamber over the Gate

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

Ultima Thule

Poems. The Chamber over the Gate

  • Written October 30, 1878. Suggested to the poet when writing a letter of condolence to the Bishop of Mississippi, whose son, the Rev. Duncan C. Green, had died at his post at Greenville, Mississippi, September 15, during the prevalence of yellow fever.

  • IS it so far from thee

    Thou canst no longer see,

    In the Chamber over the Gate,

    That old man desolate,

    Weeping and wailing sore

    For his son, who is no more?

    O Absalom, my son!

    Is it so long ago

    That cry of human woe

    From the walled city came,

    Calling on his dear name,

    That it has died away

    In the distance of to-day?

    O Absalom, my son!

    There is no far or near,

    There is neither there nor here,

    There is neither soon nor late,

    In that Chamber over the Gate,

    Nor any long ago

    To that cry of human woe,

    O Absalom, my son!

    From the ages that are past

    The voice sounds like a blast,

    Over seas that wreck and drown,

    Over tumult of traffic and town;

    And from ages yet to be

    Come the echoes back to me,

    O Absalom, my son!

    Somewhere at every hour

    The watchman on the tower

    Looks forth, and sees the fleet

    Approach of the hurrying feet

    Of messengers, that bear

    The tidings of despair.

    O Absalom, my son!

    He goes forth from the door,

    Who shall return no more.

    With him our joy departs;

    The light goes out in our hearts;

    In the Chamber over the Gate

    We sit disconsolate.

    O Absalom, my son!

    That ’t is a common grief

    Bringeth but slight relief;

    Ours is the bitterest loss,

    Ours is the heaviest cross;

    And forever the cry will be

    “Would God I had died for thee,

    O Absalom, my son!”