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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Brunswick, Me.

Morituri Salutamus

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)


O YE familiar scenes,—ye groves of pine,

That once were mine and are no longer mine,—

Thou river, widening through the meadows green

To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen,—

Ye halls, in whose seclusion and repose

Phantoms of fame, like exhalations, rose

And vanished,—we who are about to die

Salute you; earth and air and sea and sky,

And the Imperial Sun that scatters down

His sovereign splendors upon grove and town.

Ye do not answer us! ye do not hear!

We are forgotten; and in your austere

And calm indifference, ye little care

Whether we come or go, or whence or where.

What passing generations fill these halls,

What passing voices echo from these walls,

Ye heed not; we are only as the blast,

A moment heard, and then forever past.

Not so the teachers who in earlier days

Led our bewildered feet through learning’s maze;

They answer us,—alas! what have I said?

What greetings come there from the voiceless dead?

What salutation, welcome, or reply?

What pressure from the hands that lifeless lie?

They are no longer here; they all are gone

Into the land of shadows,—all save one.

Honor and reverence, and the good repute

That follows faithful service as its fruit,

Be unto him, whom living we salute.

The great Italian poet, when he made

His dreadful journey to the realms of shade,

Met there the old instructor of his youth,

And cried in tones of pity and of ruth:

“Oh, never from the memory of my heart

Your dear, paternal image shall depart,

Who while on earth, ere yet by death surprised,

Taught me how mortals are immortalized;

How grateful am I for that patient care

All my life long my language shall declare.”