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

New England: Sudbury, Mass.

The Wayside Inn

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

(From Prelude)

ONE autumn night, in Sudbury town,

Across the meadows bare and brown,

The windows of the wayside inn

Gleamed red with firelight through the leaves

Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves

Their crimson curtains rent and thin.

As ancient is this hostelry

As any in the land may be,

Built in the old Colonial day,

When men lived in a grander way,

With ampler hospitality;

A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,

Now somewhat fallen to decay,

With weather-stains upon the wall,

And stairways worn, and crazy doors,

And creaking and uneven floors,

And chimneys huge and tiled and tall.

A region of repose it seems,

A place of slumber and of dreams,

Remote among the wooded hills!

For there no noisy railway speeds,

Its torch-race scattering smoke and gleeds;

But noon and night, the panting teams

Stop under the great oaks, that throw

Tangles of light and shade below,

On roofs and doors and window-sills;

Across the road the barns display

Their lines of stalls, their mows of hay;

Through the wide doors the breezes blow;

The wattled cocks strut to and fro,

And, half effaced by rain and shine,

The Red Horse prances on the sign.

Round this old-fashioned, quaint abode

Deep silence reigned, save when a gust

Went rushing down the county road,

And skeletons of leaves, and dust,

A moment quickened by its breath,

Shuddered and danced their dance of death,

And through the ancient oaks o’erhead

Mysterious voices moaned and fled.