Longfellow

 

"Three weeks we westward bore, 

And, when the storm was o'er,  

Cloud-like we saw the shore,  

     Stretching to leeward;  

There, for my lady's bower, 

Built I the lofty tower,  

Which, to this very hour,  

     Stands, looking seaward.

There lived we many years; 

Time dried the maiden's tears; 

She had forgot her fears, 

     She was a mother; 

Death closed her mild blue eyes, 

Under that tower she lies; 

Ne'er shall the sun arise 

     On such another!" 

 

These stanzas are excerpted from The Skeleton in Armor by Henry W. Longfellow (Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1877). 

 

Regarding The Skeleton in Armor, Longfellow (1807-1882) had written to his father, Stephen Longfellow, on December 13, 1840:

 

I have been hard at work, - for the most part wrapped up in my own dreams. Have written a translation of a German ballad, and prepared for the press another original ballad, which has been lying by me some time. It is called 'The Skeleton in Armor,' and is connected with the old Round Tower at Newport. This skeleton in armor really exists. It was dug up near Fall River, where I saw it some two years ago [when returning from Newport]. I suppose it to be the remains of one of the old Northern sea-rovers, who came to this country in the tenth century. Of course I make the tradition myself; and I think I have succeeded in giving the whole a Northern air. You shall judge soon, as it will probably be in the next Knickerbocker; and it is altogether too long to copy in a letter. I hope it may be successful, though I fear that those who only glance at it will not fully comprehend it; and I must say to the benevolent reader, as Rudbeck says in the preface of his Atlantica (a work of only 2,500 folio pages), "If thou hast not leisure to study it through ten times, then do not read it once, - especially if thou wilt utter thy censure thereof." A modest request!  

 

From Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Samuel Longfellow, ed. (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1886), vol. 1, p. 366.

 

1852 JOURNAL

Longfellow's Journal records his impressions of his visit to Newport:

 

July 3rd

Newport.

Here we are, in the clover-fields on the cliff, at Hazard's house; near the beach, with the glorious sea unrolling its changing billows before us. 

 

6th

A drive and a bath on the beach. How beautifully the soft sea spreads its broad-feathered fans upon the shore. In the afternoon we went and sat by the sea under the cliff and watched the breakers and the sails, and thought the rocks looked like the Mediterranean shore, and that the Italian language would sound well.  

(p.223)