The Bridge

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807–1882 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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, O, 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, O, 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-encumbered 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.

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Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807–1882

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Love, Heartache & Loss

 Henry Wadsworth  Longfellow

Biography

By far the most widely known and best-loved American poet of his time, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow achieved a level of national and international prominence possibly unequaled in the literary history of the United States. Poems such as "Paul Revere's Ride," Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847), and "A Psalm of Life" became mainstays of national culture, long remembered by generations of readers who studied them in school. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Heartache & Loss

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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