I have no idea how poetry got into my life. All I know is that I have appreciated poetry for well over 60 years. I noted in my diary that at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1946 that I recited the poem “The Day is Done” by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow at a campfire ceremony. Without cheating let me see how much of it I still remember. Those of you who want to give this professor a grade can check this against the printed form and send me a correction.
“The day is done and the darkness
Falls on the wings of night
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul can not resist.
A feeling of sadness and longing
That is not akin to pain
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay
That shall sooth this restless feeling
And banish the thoughts of day.
Read to me not from the grand old masters
Nor from the bards sublime
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of time.
For like strains of martial music
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor
And tonight I long for rest.
Read to me rather from some humbler poet
Whose songs gushed forth from his heart
As rain from the clouds of summer
Or tears from the eyelids start.
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have the power to quiet
The restless pulse of care
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
So pick up thy treasured volume
And read the poem of thy choice
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And silently steal away.
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