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My Lost Youth
by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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Often I think of the beautiful town
      That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
      And my youth comes back to me.
            And a verse of a Lapland song
            Is haunting my memory still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
      And catch, in sudden gleams,
The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,
And islands that were the Hesperides
      Of all my boyish dreams.
            And the burden of that old song,
            It murmurs and whispers still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I remember the black wharves and the slips,
      And the sea-tides tossing free;
And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,
And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
      And the magic of the sea.
            And the voice of that wayward song
            Is singing and saying still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I remember the bulwarks by the shore,
      And the fort upon the hill;
The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar,
The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,
      And the bugle wild and shrill.
            And the music of that old song
            Throbs in my memory still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I remember the sea-fight far away,
      How it thundered o'er the tide!
And the dead captains, as they lay
In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay,
      Where they in battle died.
            And the sound of that mournful song
            Goes through me with a thrill:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I can see the breezy dome of groves,
      The shadows of Deering's Woods;
And the friendships old and the early loves
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
      In quiet neighborhoods.
            And the verse of that sweet old song,
            It flutters and murmurs still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
      Across the school-boy's brain;
The song and the silence in the heart,
That in part are prophecies, and in part
      Are longings wild and vain.
            And the voice of that fitful song
            Sings on, and is never still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

There are things of which I may not speak;
      There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
      And a mist before the eye.
            And the words of that fatal song
            Come over me like a chill:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

Strange to me now are the forms I meet
      When I visit the dear old town;
But the native air is pure and sweet,
And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,
      As they balance up and down,
            Are singing the beautiful song,
            Are sighing and whispering still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

 

And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,
      And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were,
      I find my lost youth again.
            And the strange and beautiful song,
            The groves are repeating it still:
      "A boy's will is the wind's will,

And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

This poem is in the public domain.

 

 

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Most experts would agree that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century. A family man who suffered much tragedy in his personal life,  Longfellow was the first of a group of writers known as the "Fireside Poets," called such for their popularity with families all over the country who gathered by the fire in the evenings to read the work of these poets aloud. Longfellow published poetry over a forty year period, and enjoyed public adulation in line with that of rock stars and celebrities today.

 

 


New comments are closed for now.
transitions:
Great poem. Popularity well deserved, Henry. Imagine families today, gathered by the fire, to read poetry...imagine...
Posted 11/12/2015 10:45 AM
rhonasheridan:
What a beautiful poem. It reads so well. There is music in every line. I just loved it.
Posted 11/12/2015 01:10 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
Fabulous! There is not much else to say!
Posted 11/11/2015 11:14 AM
phebe.davidson@gmail.com:
I've always loved the refrain .. .
Posted 11/11/2015 05:07 AM
Eiken:
Wonderful poem:) I love the refrain and the sense of lost youth. Wonderful sense of time and place making it history. Máire x
Posted 11/11/2015 04:17 AM


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