Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
Ultima Thule
The Iron Pen
          Written June 20, 1879. The pen was made of a bit of iron from the prison of Bonnivard at Chillon; the handle of wood from the Frigate Constitution, and bound with a circlet of gold, inset with three precious stones from Siberia, Ceylon, and Maine. It was a gift from Miss Helen Hamlin, of Bangor, Maine.

I THOUGHT this Pen would arise
From the casket where it lies—
  Of itself would arise and write
My thanks and my surprise.
When you gave it me under the pines,        5
I dreamed these gems from the mines
  Of Siberia, Ceylon, and Maine
Would glimmer as thoughts in the lines;
That this iron link from the chain
Of Bonnivard might retain        10
  Some verse of the Poet who sang
Of the prisoner and his pain;
That this wood from the frigate’s mast
Might write me a rhyme at last,
  As it used to write on the sky        15
The song of the sea and the blast.
But motionless as I wait,
Like a Bishop lying in state
  Lies the Pen, with its mitre of gold,
And its jewels inviolate.        20
Then must I speak, and say
That the light of that summer day
  In the garden under the pines
Shall not fade and pass away.
I shall see you standing there,        25
Caressed by the fragrant air,
  With the shadow on your face,
And the sunshine on your hair.
I shall hear the sweet low tone
Of a voice before unknown,        30
  Saying, “This is from me to you—
From me, and to you alone.”
And in words not idle and vain
I shall answer and thank you again
  For the gift, and the grace of the gift,        35
O beautiful Helen of Maine!
And forever this gift will be
As a blessing from you to me,
  As a drop of the dew of your youth
On the leaves of an aged tree.        40

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