Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

Footsteps of Angels


When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;

Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;

He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!

They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!

And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.

With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.

And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.

Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit's voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.

Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Rookie - 0 Points Kelly Passion (9/19/2012 4:13:00 AM)

    With a slow and noiseless footstep
    Comes that messenger divine,
    Takes the vacant chair beside me,
    Lays her gentle hand in mine.
    Intensifying. I really love this piece. great piece (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,988 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (9/19/2012 2:24:00 AM)

    And she sits and gazes at me
    With those deep and tender eyes,
    Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
    Looking downward from the skies.

    Human could never go beyond this looking of mother nature. Here poet personify the nature with her eyes. Great piece..............................................................Pranab k c (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 461 Points Ramesh T A (9/19/2011 3:42:00 AM)

    Departed souls and angel give company to lonely souls in silent hours of night and that is wonderfully depicted in this poem to give confidence to readers of such predicament in real life! Really a beautiful and worthy poem to read to get the inspiration one needs when one is totally out of tune in this world on certain times! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 13 Points Ravi A (9/19/2009 1:48:00 PM)

    'Uttered not, yet comprehended,
    Is the spirit's voiceless prayer,
    Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
    Breathing from her lips of air.'..... The spirit's voiceless prayer. The poem tells everything through this single line. Yes, our beloved departed souls do bless us from the heavens through their voiceless prayers. This prayer is enough for us to lead a peaceful, prosperous life. I can really count on my life after the passing away of my father back in 2002. I know how his blessings are guiding my life now. I can very well understand the essence of the poem based on my personal experience. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (9/19/2009 5:52:00 AM)

    Did Longfellow see the dead so realistically, or is this a figurative way of saying how he remember's them? When he was depressed, Shakespeare wept for 'precious friends hid in death's dateless night.' (Sonnet 30) For myself, if I think of the dead, friend or enemy, I feel depressed, and yet I know they are still alive in me due to the influence they had when they were alive. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 21 Points Joseph Poewhit (9/19/2009 4:45:00 AM)

    A room with fire lite casting shadows. A gone era of time and the memories of loved one's coming into one's life. Poem really captures the memories of lost loved one; s in life. (Report) Reply

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