Here’s a lovely poem that landed on my desk this morning when I opened a long-ago published book of Longfellow’s poetry. I’d opened to this page at random, and after a pleasant whiff of that wonderful bouquet of old bookstores, I saw I’d come upon the verses below. It was translated by Longfellow from the Spanish of Francisco De Aldana. I’m often surprised at the creative beauty and inspirational insight that lies hidden away in little bits of art like this one: libraries, old books gathering dust on some shelf in a used bookstore with creaky floorboards; books scattered on long tables at a fair. It’s a marvel…
Clear fount of light! my native land on high,
Bright with a glory that shall never fade!
Mansion of truth! without a veil or shade,
The holy quiet meets the spirit’s eye.
There dwells the soul in its ethereal essence,
Gasping no longer for life’s feeble breath;
But, sentineled in heaven, its glorious presence
With pitying eye beholds, yet fears not, death.
Beloved country! banished from thy shore,
A stranger in this prison-house of clay,
The exiled spirit weeps and sighs for thee!
Heavenward the bright perfections I adore
Direct, and the sure promise cheers the way,
That, whither love aspires, there shall my dwelling be.