Monday Poetry – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

henry_wadsworth_longfellow_photographed_by_julia_margaret_cameron_in_1868

I know we’ve already had our poem of the week but this poem by Longfellow was the answer to a clue in my crossword on Saturday. I vaguely knew it but hadn’t realised that it was written during the Civil War. It starts out a quite a jolly carol, darkens in the middle & ends hopefully. Poignant & lovely. I also couldn’t resist this gorgeous photograph (from here) of Longfellow taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the most original photographers of the 19th century. He looks like a Welsh bard, doesn’t he?

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
        “For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

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