Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
A Book of Sonnets
The Broken Oar
 
          “November 13, 1864. Stay at home and ponder upon Dante. I am frequently tempted to write upon my work the inscription found upon an oar cast on the coast of Iceland,—
        Oft war ek dasa durek [char]ro thick.
Oft was I weary when I tugged at thee.”

ONCE upon Iceland’s solitary strand
  A poet wandered with his book and pen,
  Seeking some final word, some sweet Amen,
  Wherewith to close the volume in his hand.        5
The billows rolled and plunged upon the sand,
  The circling sea-gulls swept beyond his ken,
  And from the parting cloud-rack now and then
  Flashed the red sunset over sea and land
Then by the billows at his feet was tossed        10
  A broken oar; and carved thereon he read:
  “Oft was I weary, when I toiled at thee;”
And like a man, who findeth what was lost,
  He wrote the words, then lifted up his head,
  And flung his useless pen into the sea.        15
 
 
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