Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Feb. 27, 1807 - Mar. 24, 1882


The Iron Pen

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Made from a fetter of Bonnivard, the Prisoner of Chillon; the handle of wood from the Frigate Constitution, and bound with a circlet of gold, inset with three precious stones from Siberia, Ceylon, and Maine.

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.

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Longfellow's Poetical Works
Copyright 1893
Henry Frowde, London

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