Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

Childhood. (From The Danish) Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


There was a time when I was very small,
When my whole frame was but an ell in height;
Sweetly, as I recall it, tears do fall,
And therefore I recall it with delight.

I sported in my tender mother's arms,
And rode a-horseback on best father's knee;
Alike were sorrows, passions and alarms,
And gold, and Greek, and love, unknown to me,

Then seemed to me this world far less in size,
Likewise it seemed to me less wicked far;
Like points in heaven, I saw the stars arise,
And longed for wings that I might catch a star.

I saw the moon behind the island fade,
And thought, 'Oh, were I on that island there,
I could find out of what the moon is made,
Find out how large it is, how round, how fair!'

Wondering, I saw God's sun, through western skies,
Sink in the ocean's golden lap at night,
And yet upon the morrow early rise,
And paint the eastern heaven with crimson light;

And thought of God, the gracious Heavenly Father,
Who made me, and that lovely sun on high,
And all those pearls of heaven thick-strung together,
Dropped, clustering, from his hand o'er all the sky.

With childish reverence, my young lips did say
The prayer my pious mother taught to me:
'O gentle God! oh, let me strive alway
Still to be wise, and good, and follow Thee!'

So prayed I for my father and my mother,
And for my sister, and for all the town;
The king I knew not, and the beggar-brother,
Who, bent with age, went, sighing, up and down.

They perished, the blithe days of boyhood perished,
And all the gladness, all the peace I knew!
Now have I but their memory, fondly cherished;--
God! may I never lose that too!

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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