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

A Book of Sonnets

The Three Silences of Molinos

  • To John Greenleaf Whittier
  • Written to be read at the dinner given by the publishers of The Atlantic Monthly to Mr. Whittier in honor of his seventieth birthday, December 18, 1877.

  • THREE Silences there are: the first of speech,

    The second of desire, the third of thought;

    This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught

    With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.

    These Silences, commingling each with each,

    Made up the perfect Silence that he sought

    And prayed for, and wherein at times he caught

    Mysterious sounds from realms beyond our reach.

    O thou, whose daily life anticipates

    The life to come, and in whose thought and word

    The spiritual world preponderates,

    Hermit of Amesbury! thou too hast heard

    Voices and melodies from beyond the gates,

    And speakest only when thy soul is stirred!