Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (18071882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.
The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems
Songs. The Old Clock on the Stairs
The house commemorated in the poem is the Gold house, now known as the Plunkett mansion, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the homestead of Mrs. Longfellows maternal grandfather, whither Mr. Longfellow went after his marriage in the summer of 1843. The poem was not written, however, till November, 1845, when, under date of the 12th of the month, he wrote in his diary: Began a poem on a clock, with the words Forever, never, as the burden; suggested by the words of Bridaine, the old French missionary, who said of eternity, Cest une pendule dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux mots seulement dans le silence des tombeaux,Toujours, jamais! Jamais, toujours! Et pendant ces effrayables révolutions, un réprouvé s écrie, Quelle heure est-il? et la voix dun autre misérable lui répond, LEternité.