Leafless are the trees; their purple branches Spread themselves abroad, like reefs of coral, Rising silent In the Red Sea of the winter sunset. From the hundred chimneys of the village, Like the Afreet in the Arabian story, Smoky columns Tower aloft into the air of amber. At the window winks the flickering fire-light; Here and there the lamps of evening glimmer, Social watch-fires Answering one another through the darkness. On the hearth the lighted logs are glowing, And like Ariel in the cloven pine-tree For its freedom Groans and sighs the air imprisoned in them. By the fireside there are old men seated, Seeing ruined cities in the ashes, Asking sadly Of the Past what it can ne'er restore them. By the fireside there are youthful dreamers, Building castles fair, with stately stairways, Asking blindly Of the Future what it cannot give them. By the fireside tragedies are acted In whose scenes appear two actors only, Wife and husband, And above them God the sole spectator. By the fireside there are peace and comfort, Wives and children, with fair, thoughtful faces, Waiting, watching For a well-known footstep in the passage. Each man's chimney is his Golden Mile-Stone; Is the central point, from which he measures Every distance Through the gateways of the world around him. In his farthest wanderings still he sees it; Hears the talking flame, the answering night-wind, As he heard them When he sat with those who were, but are not. Happy he whom neither wealth nor fashion, Nor the march of the encroaching city, Drives an exile From the hearth of his ancestral homestead. We may build more splendid habitations, Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures, But we cannot Buy with gold the old associations!
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882), "The golden mile-stone", appears in Birds of Passage, first published 1858 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by Francis (Frank) Romer (1810 - 1889), "The golden mile-stone" [voice and piano] [text not verified]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2008-06-10
Line count: 48
Word count: 292