As a pale phantom with a lamp Ascends some ruin's haunted stair, So glides the moon along the damp Mysterious chambers of the air. Now hidden in cloud, and now revealed, As if this phantom, full of pain, Were by the crumbling walls concealed, And at the windows seen again. Until at last, serene and proud In all the splendor of her light, She walks the terraces of cloud, Supreme as Empress of the Night. I look, but recognize no more Objects familiar to my view; The very pathway to my door Is an enchanted avenue. All things are changed. One mass of shade, The elm-trees drop their curtains down; By palace, park, and colonnade I walk as in a foreign town. The very ground beneath my feet Is clothed with a diviner air; White marble paves the silent street And glimmers in the empty square. Illusion! Underneath there lies The common life of every day; Only the spirit glorifies With its own tints the sober gray. In vain we look, in vain uplift Our eyes to heaven, if we are blind, We see but what we have the gift Of seeing; what we bring we find.
Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow library , or . . . Read the next poem; Morituri Salutamus - Poem For The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Class Of 1825 In Bowdoin College