…from the quills of the dead white poets
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)
Black shadows fall From the lindens tall, That lift aloft their massive wall Against the southern sky; And from the realms Of the shadowy elms A tide-like darkness overwhelms The fields that round us lie. But the night is fair, And everywhere A warm, soft vapor fills the air, And distant sounds seem near, And above, in the light Of the star-lit night, Swift birds of passage wing their flight Through the dewy atmosphere. I hear the beat Of their pinions fleet, As from the land of snow and sleet They seek a southern lea. I hear the cry Of their voices high Falling dreamily through the sky, But their forms I cannot see. O, say not so! Those sounds that flow In murmurs of delight and woe Come not from wings of birds. They are the throngs Of the poet's songs, Murmurs of pleasures, and pains, and wrongs, The sound of winged words. This is the cry Of souls, that high On toiling, beating pinions, fly, Seeking a warmer clime, From their distant flight Through realms of light It falls into our world of night, With the murmuring sound of rhyme.