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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Bridge

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

I STOOD on the bridge at midnight,

As the clocks were striking the hour,

And the moon rose o’er the city,

Behind the dark church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection

In the waters under me,

Like a golden goblet falling

And sinking into the sea.

And far in the hazy distance

Of that lovely night in June,

The blaze of the flaming furnace

Gleamed redder than the moon.

Among the long black rafters

The wavering shadows lay,

And the current that came from the ocean

Seemed to lift and bear them away;

As, sweeping and eddying through them,

Rose the belated tide,

And streaming into the moonlight

The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing

Among the wooden piers,

A flood of thoughts came o’er me

That filled my eyes with tears.

How often, oh how often,

In the days that had gone by,

I had stood on that bridge at midnight

And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, oh how often,

I had wished that the ebbing tide

Would bear me away on its bosom

O’er the ocean wild and wide!

For my heart was hot and restless,

And my life was full of care,

And the burden laid upon me

Seemed greater than I could bear.

But now it has fallen from me,

It is buried in the sea;

And only the sorrow of others

Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river

On its bridge with wooden piers,

Like the odor of brine from the ocean

Comes the thought of other years.

And I think how many thousands

Of care-incumbered men,

Each bearing his burden of sorrow,

Have crossed the bridge since then.

I see the long procession

Still passing to and fro;

The young heart hot and restless,

And the old subdued and slow!

And forever and forever,

As long as the river flows,

As long as the heart has passions,

As long as life has woes,—

The moon and its broken reflection

And its shadows shall appear,

As the symbol of love in heaven

And its wavering image here.