The Lighthouse


    The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
        And on its outer point, some miles away,
    The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
        A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.

    Even at this distance I can see the tides,
        Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
    A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
        In the white lip and tremor of the face.

    And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
        Through the deep purple of the twilight air,
    Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light
        With strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!

    Not one alone; from each projecting cape
        And perilous reef along the ocean's verge,
    Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
        Holding its lantern o'er the restless surge.

    Like the great giant Christopher it stands
        Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave,
    Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
        The night-o'ertaken mariner to save.

    And the great ships sail outward and return,
        Bending and bowing o'er the billowy swells,
    And ever joyful, as they see it burn,
        They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.

    They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
        Gleam for a moment only in the blaze,
    And eager faces, as the light unveils,
        Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.

    The mariner remembers when a child,
        On his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink;
    And when, returning from adventures wild,
        He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.

    Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
        Year after year, through all the silent night
    Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
        Shines on that inextinguishable light!

    It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp
        The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace;
    It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,
        And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.

    The startled waves leap over it; the storm
        Smites it with all the scourges of the rain,
    And steadily against its solid form
        Press the great shoulders of the hurricane.

    The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din
        Of wings and winds and solitary cries,
    Blinded and maddened by the light within,
        Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.

    A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
        Still grasping in his hand the fire of Jove,
    It does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,
        But hails the mariner with words of love.

    "Sail on!" it says, "sail on, ye stately ships!
        And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
    Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse,
        Be yours to bring man nearer unto man!"


facebook share button twitter share button google plus share button tumblr share button reddit share button email share button share on pinterest pinterest

Create a library and add your favorite stories. Get started by clicking the "Add" button.
Add The Lighthouse to your own personal library.

Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The Light Of Stars

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson