The Iron Pen


Made from a fetter of Bonnivard, the Prisoner of Chillon; the handle of wood from the Frigate Constitution, and bound with a circlet of gold, inset with three precious stones from Siberia, Ceylon, and Maine.

    I thought this Pen would arise
    From the casket where it lies--
        Of itself would arise and write
    My thanks and my surprise.

    When you gave it me under the pines,
    I dreamed these gems from the mines
        Of Siberia, Ceylon, and Maine
    Would glimmer as thoughts in the lines;

    That this iron link from the chain
    Of Bonnivard might retain
        Some verse of the Poet who sang
    Of the prisoner and his pain;

    That this wood from the frigate's mast
    Might write me a rhyme at last,
        As it used to write on the sky
    The song of the sea and the blast.

    But motionless as I wait,
    Like a Bishop lying in state
        Lies the Pen, with its mitre of gold,
    And its jewels inviolate.

    Then must I speak, and say
    That the light of that summer day
        In the garden under the pines
    Shall not fade and pass away.

    I shall see you standing there,
    Caressed by the fragrant air,
        With the shadow on your face,
    And the sunshine on your hair.

    I shall hear the sweet low tone
    Of a voice before unknown,
        Saying, "This is from me to you--
    From me, and to you alone."

    And in words not idle and vain
    I shall answer and thank you again
        For the gift, and the grace of the gift,
    O beautiful Helen of Maine!

    And forever this gift will be
    As a blessing from you to me,
        As a drop of the dew of your youth
    On the leaves of an aged tree.


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Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The Jewish Cemetery At Newport

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