Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the Second
- IN that delightful land which is washed by the Delaware's waters,
- Guarding in sylvan shades the name of Penn the apostle,
- Stands on the banks of its beautiful stream the city he founded.
- There all the air is balm, and the peach is the emblem of beauty,
- And the streets still re-echo the names of the trees of the forest,
- As if they fain would appease the Dryads whose haunts they molested.
- There from the troubled sea had Evangeline landed, an exile,
- Finding among the children of Penn a home and a country.
- There old Rene Leblanc had died; and when he departed,
- Saw at his side only one of all his hundred descendants.
- Something at least there was in the friendly streets of the city,
- Something that spake to her heart, and made her no longer a stranger:
- And her ear was pleased with the Thee and Thou of the Quakers,
- For it recalled the past, the old Acadian country,
- Where all men were equal, and all were brothers and sisters.
- So, when the fruitless search, the disappointed endeavor,
- Ended, to recommence no more upon earth, uncomplaining,
- Thither, as leaves to the light, were turned her thoughts and her footsteps.
- As from a mountain's top the rainy mists of the morning
- Roll away, and afar we behold the landscape below us,
- Sun-illumined, with shining rivers and cities and hamlets,
- So fell the mists from her mind, and she saw the world far below her,
- Dark no longer, but all illumined with love; and the pathway
- Which she had climbed so far, lying smooth and fair in the distance.
- Gabriel was not forgotten. Within her heart was his image,
- Clothed in the beauty of love and youth, as last she beheld him,
- Only more beautiful made by his deathlike silence and absence.
- Into her thoughts of him time entered not, for it was not.
- Over him years had no power; he was not changed, but transfigured;
- He had become to her heart as one who is dead, and not absent;
- Patience and abnegation of self, and devotion to others,
- This was the lesson a life of trial and sorrow had taught her.
- So was her love diffused, but, like to some odorous spices,
- Suffered no waste nor loss, though filling the air with aroma.
- Other hope had she none, nor wish in life, but to follow
- Meekly, with reverent steps, the sacred feet of her Saviour.
- Thus many years she lived as a Sister of Mercy; frequenting
- Lonely and wretched roofs in the crowded lanes of the city,
- Where distress and want concealed themselves from the sunlight,
- Where disease and sorrow in garrets languished neglected.
- Night after night, when the world was asleep, as the watchman repeated
- Loud, through the gusty streets, that all was well in the city,
- High at some lonely window he saw the light of her taper.
- Day after day, in the gray of the dawn, as slow through the suburbs
- Plodded the German farmer, with flowers and fruits for the market,
- Met he that meek, pale face, returning home from its watchings.
- Then it came to pass that a pestilence fell on the city,
- Presaged by wondrous signs, and mostly by flocks of wild pigeons,
- Darkening the sun in their flight, with naught in their craws but an acorn.
- And, as the tides of the sea arise in the month of September,
- Flooding some silver stream, till it spreads to a lake in a meadow,
- So death flooded life, and o'erflowing its natural margin,
- Spread to a brackish lake, the silver stream of existence.
- Wealth had no power to bribe, nor beauty to charm, the oppressor;
- But all perished alike beneath the scourge of his anger --
- Only, alas! the poor, who had neither friends nor attendants,
- Crept away to die in the almshouse, home of the homeless;
- Then in the suburbs it stood, in the midst of meadows and woodlands --
- Now the city surrounds it; but still with its gateway and wicket
- Meek, in the midst of splendor, its humble walls seem to echo
- Softly the words of the Lord -- "The poor ye always have with you."
- Thither, by night and by day, came the Sister of Mercy. The dying
- Looked up into her face, and thought, indeed, to behold there
- Gleams of celestial light encircle her forehead with splendor,
- Such as the artist paints o'er the brows of saints and apostles,
- Or such as hangs by night o'er a city seen at a distance.
- Unto their eyes it seemed the lamps of the city celestial,
- Into whose shining gates ere long their spirits would enter.
- Thus, on a Sabbath morn, through the streets, deserted and silent,
- Wending her quiet way, she entered the door of the almshouse.
- Sweet on the summer air was the odor of flowers in the garden;
- And she paused on her way to gather the fairest among them,
- That the dying once more might rejoice in their fragrance and beauty.
- Then, as she mounted the stairs to the corridors, cooled by the east wind,
- Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the belfry of Christ Church,
- While, intermingled with these, across the meadows were wafted
- Sounds of psalms, that were sung by the Swedes in their church at Wicaco.
- Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on her spirit;
- Something within her said -- "At length thy trials are ended;"
- And, with a light in her looks, she entered the chambers of sickness.
- Noiselessly moved about the assiduous, careful attendants,
- Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching brow, and in silence
- Closing the sightless eyes of the dead, and concealing their faces,
- Where on their pallets they lay, like drifts of snow by the roadside.
- Many a languid head, upraised as Evangeline entered,
- Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passed, for her presence
- Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls of a prison.
- And, as she looked around, she saw how Death, the consoler,
- Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it forever.
- Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night-time;
- Vacant their places were, or filled already by strangers.
- Suddenly, as if arrested by fear or a feeling of wonder,
- Still she stood with her colorless lips apart, while a shudder
- Ran through her frame, and, forgotten, the flowerets dropped from her fingers,
- And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of the morning.
- Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such terrible anguish,
- That the dying heard it, and started up from their pillows.
- On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man.
- Long, and thin, and gray were the locks that shaded his temples;
- But, as he lay in the morning light, his face for a moment
- Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood;
- So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are dying.
- Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever,
- As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had besprinkled its portals,
- That the Angel of Death might see the sign, and pass over,
- Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay, and his spirit exhausted
- Seemed to be sinking down to infinite depths in the darkness,
- Darkness of slumber and death, forever sinking and sinking.
- Then through those realms of shade, in multiplied reverberations,
- Heard he that cry of pain, and through the hush that succeeded
- Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender and saint-like,
- "Gabriel! O my beloved!" and died away into silence.
- Then he beheld, in a dream, once more the home of his childhood;
- Green Acadian meadows, with sylvan rivers among them,
- Village, and mountain, and woodlands; and, walking under their shadow,
- As in the days of her youth, Evangeline rose in his vision.
- Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly he lifted his eyelids,
- Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline knelt by his bedside.
- Vainly he strove to whisper her name, for the accents unuttered
- Died on his lips, and their motion revealed what his tongue would have spoken.
- Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline, kneeling beside him,
- Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her bosom
- Sweet was the light of his eyes; but it suddenly sank into darkness,
- As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a casement.
- All was ended now, the hope, and the fear, and the sorrow,
- All the aching of heart, the restless, unsatisfied longing,
- All the dull, deep pain, and constant anguish of patience!
- And, as she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom,
- Meekly she bowed her own, and murmured, "Father, I thank thee!"
- Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from its shadow,
- Side by side, in their nameless graves, the lovers are sleeping.
- Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard,
- In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and unnoticed;
- Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them,
- Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at rest and forever,
- Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no longer are busy,
- Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have ceased from their labors,
- Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed their journey!
- Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches
- Dwells another race, with other customs and language.
- Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
- Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile
- Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom;
- In the fisherman's cot the wheel and the loom are still busy;
- Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun,
- And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story,
- While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean
- Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.