Thursday, January 1, 2015



_________ EXCELSIOR! _________


The shades of night were falling fast, 
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!
His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed 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 answered, with a sigh,
Excelsior!
"Beware the pine tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,
Excelsior!
At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered 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!

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1841)



8 comments:

  1. I hope that me managed to blaze a worthy trail.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please take spcial note of the last two lines:


    __ Give All to Love __

    Give all to love;
    Obey thy heart;
    Friends, kindred, days,
    Estate, good fame,
    Plans, credit, and the Muse—
    Nothing refuse.

    'Tis a brave master;
    Let it have scope:
    Follow it utterly,
    Hope beyond hope:
    High and more high
    It dives into noon,
    With wing unspent,
    Untold intent;
    But it is a god,
    Knows its own path,
    And the outlets of the sky.

    It was never for the mean;
    It requireth courage stout,
    Souls above doubt,
    Valour unbending:
    Such 'twill reward;—
    They shall return
    More than they were,
    And ever ascending.

    Leave all for love;
    Yet, hear me, yet,
    One word more thy heart behoved,
    One pulse more of firm endeavour—
    Keep thee today,
    Tomorrow, for ever,
    Free as an Arab
    Of thy beloved.

    Cling with life to the maid;
    But when the surprise,
    First vague shadow of surmise,
    Flits across her bosom young,
    Of a joy apart from thee,
    Free be she, fancy-free;
    Nor thou detain her vesture's hem,
    Nor the palest rose she flung
    From her summer diadem.

    Though thou loved her as thyself,
    As a self of purer clay;
    Though her parting dims the day,
    Stealing grace from all alive;
    Heartily know,
    When half-gods go
    The gods arrive.


    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You too, Jersey!

    Stay healthy, get wealthy, and do your best to be cheerful -- if only for the sake of others, ;-)

    I wish you happiness, Jersey.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For Study and Discussion:

    What could these two poems -- one by Longfellow, the other by Emerson -- possibly have to do with each other? What do they mean? How could each or either apply to daily life?

    ReplyDelete
  5. To a Happy and Prosperous New Year

    ReplyDelete
  6. http://youtu.be/lcD7J0udxng

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stanley Holloway wasn't the only one to satirize Excelsior, Anonymous.

    James Thurber did a wicked, marvelously irreverent send up of Longfellow's famous text in a series of cartoons accompanying the words published ages ago in The New Yorker. It's available online. Just Google Excelsior James Thurber, and it should come right up.

    ReplyDelete

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