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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Belgium: Antwerp

The Carillon of Antwerp Cathedral

By Anonymous

IN the pleasant land of Belgium,

Where the Scheldt first seeks the main,

Stands a quaint, old, gabled city,

Fashioned like a town of Spain.

Through that grand old town of Antwerp,

Rich in shows of bygone time,

As on eyesight falls the sunshine,

Bursts the bright cathedral chime.

On the sultry air of summer,

On December’s chilling blast,

On the dull blank ear of midnight,

Is that carillon sweetly cast,

Like the golden grain in seed-time,

Scattered with a hopeful care,

That the genial after-season

May produce some harvest there.

Oft forgotten, oft remembered,

Startling, strange, and silent soon,

Lovely, even though neglected,

Like the light of crescent moon.

Where the reveller’s song is loudest,

Where dim tapers light the dead,

Where the stranger seeks his chamber,

Steals that cadence overhead.

Where the monk is at his vigil,

Where the air is foul with sin,

Where the lonely sick one waketh,

That old chime strays softly in.

To the vile, in notes of warning,—

Chiding tones that seldom cease,—

To the sad, in words of solace,

To the pure, in thoughts of peace.

O’er the city, o’er the river,

Through each quarter of the town,

Through each day, and through each season,

Rains that frequent music down.

Even across the parting ocean,

In still chambers of the brain,

At this moment, through the silence,

Breaks that magic sound again.

Like the carillon softly chiming,

Soothing, gentle as its fall,

Is the ceaseless dole of mercy,

Unperceived, that comes to all.

And our nobler life is nourished,

As we count the beads of time,

By pure hopes, and aspirations

Sweeter than that minster chime.

O, ’t is well to pause and listen

To those benisons in the air,

As we tread life’s busy pathway,

That salute us everywhere.