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2017 June 23, Friday
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C F
Excelsior
by Henry W. Longfellow
First published online on 2010 January 02.
Editor’s Foreword
Onward and upward!
SFFH: Article

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village pass’d
A youth, who bore, mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
         Excelsior!

His brow was sad; his eye beneath
Flash’d like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
         Excelsior!

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright:
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
         Excelsior!

“Try not the pass!” the old man said;
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!”
And loud that clarion voice replied,
         Excelsior!

“O stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!”
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answer’d, with a sigh,
         Excelsior!

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Utter’d the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,
         Excelsior!

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
         Excelsior!

There, in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star!
         Excelsior!

Mr. Longfellow was born in Portland, in 1807, and served as professor of the French and English languages in Harvard University. He has published “Outre Mer, a Pilgrimage beyond the Sea,” “Hyperion,” “The Spanish Student,” and two volumes of ballads and other poems.
Enjoy this story?
Here’s another you might like:
2005 July 27
C F
by Dan C. Rinnert
It takes a village to raise a child, but only one idiot to undo it.

 

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