Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Warden of the Cinque Ports
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
A MIST was driving down the British Channel;
    The day was just begun;
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,
    Streamed the red autumn sun.
 
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon,        5
    And the white sails of ships;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon
    Hailed it with feverish lips.
 
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover,
    Were all alert that day,        10
To see the French war-steamers speeding over
    When the fog cleared away.
 
Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,
    Their cannon, through the night,
Holding their breath, had watched in grim defiance        15
    The seacoast opposite;
 
And now they roared, at drum-beat, from their stations
    On every citadel;
Each answering each, with morning salutations,
    That all was well!        20
 
And down the coast, all taking up the burden,
    Replied the distant forts—
As if to summon from his sleep the warden
    And lord of the Cinque Ports.
 
Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure,        25
    No drum-beat from the wall,
No morning gun from the black forts’ embrasure,
    Awaken with their call!
 
No more, surveying with an eye impartial
    The long line of the coast,        30
Shall the gaunt figure of the old field-marshal
    Be seen upon his post!
 
For in the night, unseen, a single warrior,
    In sombre harness mailed,
Dreaded of man, and surnamed the Destroyer,        35
    The rampart wall has scaled!
 
He passed into the chamber of the sleeper,—
    The dark and silent room;
And, as he entered, darker grew, and deeper
    The silence and the gloom.        40
 
He did not pause to parley, or dissemble,
    But smote the warden hoar—
Ah! what a blow! that made all England tremble
    And groan from shore to shore.
 
Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited,        45
    The sun rose bright o’erhead,—
Nothing in Nature’s aspect intimated
    That a great man was dead!
 
 
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