The Old Clock on the Stairs
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Afternoon in February An April Day The Arrow and the Song The Arsenal at Springfield Autumn Autumn Within The Beleaguered City The Belfry of Bruges Birds Of Passage Blind Bartimeus The Bridge Burial of the Minnisink Carillon Changed Children The Children's Hour The Courtship of Miles Standish Curfew Dante Day is Done Drinking Song Endymion Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie The Evening Star Excelsior Fata Morgana Flowers Footsteps of Angels A Gleam of Sunshine Goblet of Life God's Acre The Good Part, That Shall Not be Taken Away Hymn of the Moravian Nuns of Bethlehem at the Consecration of Pulaski's Banner Hymn to the Night It Is Not Always May L'Envoi The Ladder of St. Augustine The Light of Stars Loss And Gain Maidenhood Mezzo Cammin Midnight Mass for the Dying Year My Lost Youth Nature The Norman Baron Nuremburg The Occultation of Orion The Old Clock on the Stairs Paul Revere's Ride A Psalm of Life The Quadroon Girl Rain in Summer The Rainy Day The Reaper and the Flowers The Republic The Skeleton in Armor The Slave In the Dismal Swamp The Slave Singing at Midnight The Slave's Dream Snow-Flakes The Song of Hiawatha The Sound Of The Sea Spirit of Poetry St. John's, Cambridge Sunrise on the Hills The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls To a Child To an Old Danish Song-Book To the Driving Cloud To the River Charles To William E. Channing Village Blacksmith Voices Of the Night Walter Von Der Vogel Weid The Warning The Witnesses Woods in Winter Wreck of the Hesperus
Somewhat back from the village street Stands the old-fashioned country-seat. Across its antique portico Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw; And from its station in the hall An ancient timepiece says to all,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" Half-way up the stairs it stands, And points and beckons with its hands From its case of massive oak, Like a monk, who, under his cloak, Crosses himself, and sighs, alas! With sorrowful voice to all who pass,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" By day its voice is low and light; But in the silent dead of night, Distinct as a passing footstep's fall, It echoes along the vacant hall, Along the ceiling, along the floor, And seems to say, at each chamber-door,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" Through days of sorrow and of mirth, Through days of death and days of birth, Through every swift vicissitude Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood, And as if, like God, it all things saw, It calmly repeats those words of awe,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" In that mansion used to be Free-hearted Hospitality; His great fires up the chimney roared; The stranger feasted at his board; But, like the skeleton at the feast, That warning timepiece never ceased,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" There groups of merry children played, There youths and maidens dreaming strayed; O precious hours! O golden prime, And affluence of love and time! Even as a Miser counts his gold, Those hours the ancient timepiece told,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" From that chamber, clothed in white, The bride came forth on her wedding night; There, in that silent room below, The dead lay in his shroud of snow; And in the hush that followed the prayer, Was heard the old clock on the stair,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" All are scattered now and fled, Some are married, some are dead; And when I ask, with throbs of pain. "Ah! when shall they all meet again?" As in the days long since gone by, The ancient timepiece makes reply,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever! Never here, forever there, Where all parting, pain, and care, And death, and time shall disappear,-- Forever there, but never here! The horologe of Eternity Sayeth this incessantly,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!"