Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


The Bridge of Cloud

BURN, O evening hearth, and waken

Pleasant visions, as of old!

Though the house by winds be shaken,

Safe I keep this room of gold!

Ah, no longer wizard Fancy

Builds her castles in the air,

Luring me by necromancy

Up the never-ending stair!

But, instead, she builds me bridges

Over many a dark ravine,

Where beneath the gusty ridges

Cataracts dash and roar unseen.

And I cross them, little heeding

Blast of wind or torrent’s roar,

As I follow the receding

Footsteps that have gone before.

Naught avails the imploring gesture,

Naught avails the cry of pain!

When I touch the flying vesture,

’T is the gray robe of the rain.

Baffled I return, and, leaning

O’er the parapets of cloud,

Watch the mist that intervening

Wraps the valley in its shroud.

And the sounds of life ascending

Faintly, vaguely, meet the ear,

Murmur of bells and voices blending

With the rush of waters near.

Well I know what there lies hidden,

Every tower and town and farm,

And again the land forbidden

Reassumes its vanished charm.

Well I know the secret places,

And the nests in hedge and tree;

At what doors are friendly faces,

In what hearts are thoughts of me.

Through the mist and darkness sinking,

Blown by wind and beaten by shower,

Down I fling the thought I’m thinking,

Down I toss this Alpine flower.