Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
To an Old Danish Song-book
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
WELCOME, my old friend,
Welcome to a foreign fireside,
While the sullen gales of autumn
Shake the windows.
The ungrateful world        5
Has, it seems, dealt harshly with thee,
Since, beneath the skies of Denmark,
First I met thee.
There are marks of age,
There are thumb-marks on thy margin,        10
Made by hands that clasp’d thee rudely,
At the alehouse.
Soil’d and dull thou art;
Yellow are thy time-worn pages,
As the russet, rain-molested        15
Leaves of autumn.
Thou art stain’d with wine
Scatter’d from hilarious goblets,
As the leaves with the libations
Of Olympus.        20
Yet dost thou recall
Days departed, half-forgotten,
When in dreamy youth I wander’d
By the Baltic,—
When I paused to hear        25
The old ballad of King Christian
Shouted from suburban taverns
In the twilight.
Thou recallest bards,
Who, in solitary chambers,        30
And with hearts by passion wasted,
Wrote thy pages.
Thou recallest homes
Where thy songs of love and friendship
Made the gloomy Northern winter        35
Bright as summer.
Once some ancient Scald,
In his bleak, ancestral Iceland,
Chanted staves of these old ballads
To the Vikings.        40
Once in Elsinore,
At the court of old King Hamlet,
Yorick and his boon companions
Sang these ditties.
Once Prince Frederick’s Guard        45
Sang them in their smoky barracks;—
Suddenly the English cannon
Join’d the chorus!
Peasants in the field,
Sailors on the roaring ocean,        50
Students, tradesmen, pale mechanics,
All have sung them.
Thou hast been their friend;
They, alas! have left thee friendless!
Yet at least by one warm fireside        55
Art thou welcome.
And, as swallows build
In these wide, old-fashion’d chimneys,
So thy twittering songs shall nestle
In my bosom,—        60
Quiet, close, and warm,
Sheltered from all molestation,
And recalling by their voices
Youth and travel.

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