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

New England: Salem, Mass.


By William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)

(From Ode on the Anniversary of the Fifth Half Century of the Landing of Gov. John Endicott)

SWIFT fly the years. Too swift, alas!

A full half-century has flown,

Since, through these gardens fair and pastures lone

And down the busy street,

Or ’neath the elms whose shadows soft are thrown

Upon the common’s trampled grass,

Pattered my childish feet.

Gone are the happy games we played as boys!

Gone the glad shouts, the free and careless joys,

The fights, the feuds, the friendships that we had,

And all the trivial things that had the power,

When Youth was in its early flower,

To make us sad or glad!

Gone the familiar faces that we knew,

Silent the voices that once thrilled us through,

And ghosts are everywhere!

They peer from every window-pane,

From every alley, street, and lane

They whisper on the air.

They haunt the meadows green and wide,

The garden-walk, the river-side,

The beating mill adust with meal,

The rope-walk with its whirring wheel,

The elm grove on the sunny ridge,

The rattling draw, the echoing bridge;

The lake on which we used to float

What time the blue jay screamed his note,

The voiceful pines that ceaselessly

Breathed back their answer to the sea,

The school-house, where we learned to spell,

The church, the solemn-sounding bell,—

All, all, are full of them.

Where’er we turn, howe’er we go,

Ever we hear their voices dim

That sing to us as in a dream

The song of “Long ago.”

Ah me, how many an autumn day

We watched with palpitating breast

Some stately ship, from India or Cathay,

Laden with spicy odors from the East,

Come sailing up the bay!

Unto our youthful hearts elate

What wealth beside their real freight

Of rich material things they bore!

Ours were Arabian cargoes, fair,

Mysterious, exquisite, and rare;

From far romantic lands built out of air

On an ideal shore

Sent by Aladdin, Camaralzaman,

Morgiana, or Badoura, or the Khan.

Treasures of Sindbad, vague and wondrous things

Beyond the reach of aught but Youth’s imaginings.


How oft half-fearfully we prowled

Around those gabled houses, quaint and old,

Whose legends, grim and terrible,

Of witch and ghost that used in them to dwell,

Around the twilight fire were told;

While huddled close with anxious ear

We heard them, quivering with fear,

And, if the daylight half o’ercame the spell,

’T was with a lingering dread

We oped the door and touched the stinging bell

In the dark shop that led,

For some had fallen under time’s disgrace,

To meaner uses and a lower place.

But as we heard it ring, our hearts’ quick pants

Almost were audible;

For with its sound it seemed to rouse the dead,

And wake some ghost from out the dusky haunts

Where faint the daylight fell.

Upon the sunny wharves how oft

Within some dim secluded loft

We played, and dreamed the livelong day,

And all the world was ours in play;

We cared not, let it slip away,

And let the sandy hour-glass run,

Time is so long, and life so long

When it has just begun.