BETA

The Fire of Drift-Wood.

[The following piece is from a volume of genuine poetry just
published at Boston, United States, entitled ‘The Seaside and the
Fireside.’ By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow :] —
We sat within the farm-house old,1
Whose windows, looking o’er the bay,2
Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold,3
An easy entrance night and day.4
Not far away we saw the port5
The strange, old-fashioned, silent town6
The lighthouse—the dismantled fort7
The wooden houses, quaint and brown.8
We sat and talked until the night,9
Descending, filled the little room ;10
Our faces faded from the sight,11
Our voices only broke the gloom.12
We spake of many a vanished scene,13
Of what we once had thought and said,14
Of what had been, and might have been,15
And who was changed, and who was dead ;16
And all that fills the hearts of friends,17
When first they feel, with secret pain,18
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,19
And never can be one again ;20
The first slight swerving of the heart,21
That words are powerless to express,22
And leave it still unsaid in part,23
Or say it in too great excess.24
The very tones in which we spake25
Had something strange, I could but mark ;26
The leaves of memory seemed to make27
A mournful rustling in the dark.28
Oft died the words upon our lips,29
As suddenly from out the fire,30
Built of the wreck of stranded ships,31
The flames would leap, and then expire.32
And, as their splendour flashed and failed,33
We thought of wrecks upon the main34
Of ships dismasted, that were hailed,35
And sent no answer back again.36
The windows, rattling in their frames37
The ocean, roaring up the beach38
The gusty blast—the bickering flames39
All mingled vaguely in our speech ;40
Until they made themselves a part41
Of fancies floating through the brain42
The long-lost ventures of the heart,43
That send no answers back again.44
Oh flames that glowed ! oh hearts that yearned !45
They were indeed too much akin46
The drift-wood fire without that burned,47
The thoughts that burned and glowed within.48