Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Denmark: Odensee


By Anonymous

THE MAN whose heart is true and tried,

He may wander fearlessly;

Yet beware of the island of Funen,

And the valley of Odensee.

We stood on the bridge together

As the sunset faded wild,

And I heard the seaman’s story

Of a wanderer beguiled.

As the stranger paced down the valley,

The mill-stream his footsteps laved,

The robin sang by the pathway,

And the green grass glittered and waved.

All murmured, “Though storm and destruction

In the whole wide world may be,

There is rest in this one low valley,

In the valley of Odensee.”

How swiftly the hour of slumber

In the faint noontide was gone!

The robin sang o’er him in locust-boughs

And the mill-stream murmured on.

The dreams of a thousand years stole back

On his dreaming soul that day,

And dim, fair forms through the brookside woods

Went glimmering and waning away.

Ah! how his footsteps faltered,

When he rose from the wayside spell:

Ah! how the world seemed altered,

And how hushed the quiet dell!

As the wanderer went up the valley,

There were sad thoughts clung round his mind,

As the poplars clung on his pathway,

While their bright leaves sighed in the wind;

And he knew, ere he reached the hill-top,

He had left his soul behind.

It waved in the locust-blossom,

It gleamed in the poplar spray,

It sang in the robin’s singing,

And it murmured, “Stay, O, stay!”

“The bees suck honey from the flower,

And the soft winds steal it from the bee,

And the honey of thy soul is drained away,

By this sweet air’s luxury.”

And as he went wandering onward,

His heart beat, ah! wearily,

And he looked, and looked, to the westward,

To the valley of Odensee.

His cheek grew whiter and thinner,

And his pulse ebbed day by day,

But he only looked to the westward,

Where the dream of his sick heart lay.

Like the mill-stream depths where the dark fish glance,

His dying eyes did seem,

But still they gazed to the westward,

And closed upon the dream.

Ah! sadly I heard the story,

For my full heart answered me,

There were spells in Merrimack valleys

As strong as in Odensee.