Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

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A Gleam of Sunshine


This is the place. Stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been.

The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time's flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side.

Here runs the highway to the town;
There the green lane descends,
Through which I walked to church with thee,
O gentlest of my friends!

The shadow of the linden-trees
Lay moving on the grass;
Between them and the moving boughs,
A shadow, thou didst pass.

Thy dress was like the lilies,
And thy heart as pure as they:
One of God's holy messengers
Did walk with me that day.

I saw the branches of the trees
Bend down thy touch to meet,
The clover-blossoms in the grass
Rise up to kiss thy feet,

"Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares,
Of earth and folly born!"
Solemnly sang the village choir
On that sweet Sabbath morn.

Through the closed blinds the golden sun
Poured in a dusty beam,
Like the celestial ladder seen
By Jacob in his dream.

And ever and anon, the wind,
Sweet-scented with the hay,
Turned o'er the hymn-book's fluttering leaves
That on the window lay.

Long was the good man's sermon,
Yet it seemed not so to me;
For he spake of Ruth the beautiful,
And still I thought of thee.

Long was the prayer he uttered,
Yet it seemed not so to me;
For in my heart I prayed with him,
And still I thought of thee.

But now, alas! the place seems changed;
Thou art no longer here:
Part of the sunshine of the scene
With thee did disappear.

Though thoughts, deep-rooted in my heart,
Like pine-trees dark and high,
Subdue the light of noon, and breathe
A low and ceaseless sigh;

This memory brightens o'er the past,
As when the sun, concealed
Behind some cloud that near us hangs
Shines on a distant field.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Read poems about / on: sunshine, sleep, memory, kiss, beautiful, sun, green, dream, wind, dark, heart, light, god, tree, rose, running, friend, change

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  • Robert Kubarych (6/24/2014 10:24:00 PM)

    Truly a poem timeless poem that transcends time and space. He touches our minds and hearts from another time and place. If that's not immortality I don't know what is. (Report) Reply

  • Skywee Gh (6/24/2014 5:53:00 AM)

    wow.this poem is very good.the use of chosen words in this poem was fantastic.and i like it...it moves me from a point to a point #periodically.. (Report) Reply

  • Sixtus Osim (6/25/2013 4:48:00 AM)

    Why can't we, younger generations write poems as this? Maybe they 've exhausted poetry vocabulries. This poem is good is all i want to say. (Report) Reply

  • Lynne Fincherspringarden (6/25/2012 5:25:00 PM)

    I love this poem. It is a touching and loving tribute to Longfellow's dear and gentle friend. The expression and creativity of Longfellow's beautiful soul has spanned the centuries to touch the heart of the reader in the new millennium. May his light continue to shine into the next century and for all future generations. (Report) Reply

  • Ralph The Elf (6/24/2012 7:52:00 AM)

    very poignant write...i am ralph o'grantson an african poet and i will love for you to read my poems and correct me where necessary...i will be very glad if you did that for me (Report) Reply

  • Isaac Isangi (12/29/2009 5:56:00 AM)

    The beauty and liveliness of the poem are well captured. I love the aesthetic part and make me glued to the lines. Could someone be sharing the same? (Report) Reply

  • Dimitris(Jimmy) Psachos (6/24/2007 4:45:00 AM)

    Exquisite depiction of an anticipated desire! It urges me to re-evaluate Longfellow and place him into the top American poets ever! ! Need to read more... (Report) Reply

  • Kaylyn Dehn (10/21/2004 8:18:00 PM)

    I think that this poem really describes how something good may not be happening to you, but it is always happening to someone else. The scene is peaceful and quiet, yet vivid with the descriptions. (Report) Reply

Read all 17 comments »

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