Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman
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   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
776. Footsteps of Angels
 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
 
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,        5
  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;        10
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,        15
  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!        20
 
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        25
  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,        30
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,        35
  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!        40
 

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