Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
New England: Salem, Mass.
Salem
William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
 
(From Ode on the Anniversary of the Fifth Half Century of the Landing of Gov. John Endicott)

SWIFT fly the years. Too swift, alas!
  A full half-century has flown,
Since, through these gardens fair and pastures lone
  And down the busy street,
Or ’neath the elms whose shadows soft are thrown        5
  Upon the common’s trampled grass,
    Pattered my childish feet.
Gone are the happy games we played as boys!
Gone the glad shouts, the free and careless joys,
The fights, the feuds, the friendships that we had,        10
And all the trivial things that had the power,
When Youth was in its early flower,
  To make us sad or glad!
Gone the familiar faces that we knew,
Silent the voices that once thrilled us through,        15
  And ghosts are everywhere!
They peer from every window-pane,
From every alley, street, and lane
  They whisper on the air.
They haunt the meadows green and wide,        20
The garden-walk, the river-side,
The beating mill adust with meal,
The rope-walk with its whirring wheel,
The elm grove on the sunny ridge,
The rattling draw, the echoing bridge;        25
The lake on which we used to float
What time the blue jay screamed his note,
The voiceful pines that ceaselessly
Breathed back their answer to the sea,
The school-house, where we learned to spell,        30
The church, the solemn-sounding bell,—
  All, all, are full of them.
Where’er we turn, howe’er we go,
  Ever we hear their voices dim
  That sing to us as in a dream        35
  The song of “Long ago.”
 
Ah me, how many an autumn day
  We watched with palpitating breast
Some stately ship, from India or Cathay,
  Laden with spicy odors from the East,        40
    Come sailing up the bay!
  Unto our youthful hearts elate
  What wealth beside their real freight
    Of rich material things they bore!
  Ours were Arabian cargoes, fair,        45
  Mysterious, exquisite, and rare;
  From far romantic lands built out of air
    On an ideal shore
  Sent by Aladdin, Camaralzaman,
  Morgiana, or Badoura, or the Khan.        50
Treasures of Sindbad, vague and wondrous things
Beyond the reach of aught but Youth’s imaginings.
*        *        *        *        *
How oft half-fearfully we prowled
Around those gabled houses, quaint and old,
Whose legends, grim and terrible,        55
Of witch and ghost that used in them to dwell,
  Around the twilight fire were told;
While huddled close with anxious ear
  We heard them, quivering with fear,
And, if the daylight half o’ercame the spell,        60
  ’T was with a lingering dread
We oped the door and touched the stinging bell
  In the dark shop that led,
For some had fallen under time’s disgrace,
  To meaner uses and a lower place.        65
But as we heard it ring, our hearts’ quick pants
  Almost were audible;
For with its sound it seemed to rouse the dead,
And wake some ghost from out the dusky haunts
  Where faint the daylight fell.        70
 
Upon the sunny wharves how oft
  Within some dim secluded loft
We played, and dreamed the livelong day,
And all the world was ours in play;
We cared not, let it slip away,        75
And let the sandy hour-glass run,
Time is so long, and life so long
    When it has just begun.
 
 
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