Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

Ultima Thule: The Iron Pen


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,
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
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
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.

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,
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,
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,
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.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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