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My Lost Youth -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Guest poem sent in by Erin Mansell
(Poem #1166) My Lost Youth
 Often I think of the beautiful town
 That is seated by the sea;
 Often in thought go up and down
 The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
 And my youth comes back to me.
 And a verse of a Lapland song
 Is haunting my memory still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
 And catch, in sudden gleams,
 The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,
 And islands that were the Hesperides
 Of all my boyish dreams.
 And the burden of that old song,
 It murmurs and whispers still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I remember the black wharves and the slips,
 And the sea-tides tossing free;
 And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,
 And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
 And the magic of the sea.
 And the voice of that wayward song
 Is singing and saying still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I remember the bulwarks by the shore,
 And the fort upon the hill;
 The sunrise gun with its hollow roar,
 The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,
 And the bugle wild and shrill.
 And the music of that old song
 Throbs in my memory still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I remember the sea-fight far away,
 How it thunder'd o'er the tide!
 And the dead sea-captains, as they lay
 In their graves o'erlooking the tranquil bay
 Where they in battle died.
 And the sound of that mournful song
 Goes through me with a thrill:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I can see the breezy dome of groves,
 The shadows of Deering's woods;
 And the friendships old and the early loves
 Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
 In quiet neighbourhoods.
 And the verse of that sweet old song,
 It flutters and murmurs still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
 Across the schoolboy's brain;
 The song and the silence in the heart,
 That in part are prophecies, and in part
 Are longings wild and vain.
 And the voice of that fitful song
 Sings on, and is never still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 There are things of which I may not speak;
 There are dreams that cannot die;
 There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
 And bring a pallor into the cheek,
 And a mist before the eye.
 And the words of that fatal song
 Come over me like a chill:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 Strange to me now are the forms I meet
 When I visit the dear old town;
 But the native air is pure and sweet,
 And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,
 As they balance up and down,
 Are singing the beautiful song,
 Are sighing and whispering still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

 And Deering's woods are fresh and fair,
 And with joy that is almost pain
 My heart goes back to wander there,
 And among the dreams of the days that were
 I find my lost youth again.
 And the strange and beautiful song,
 The groves are repeating it still:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Hi again,
Your new series has inspired me and I thought I should send in this poem.
The movie it was featured in was "In the Bedroom" with Sissy Spacek and
Marisa Tomei amongst others.  A poker friend of the father in the movie
keeps quoting poetry at their games and he (the father) keeps asking him to
move on from a particular poet.  When the doctor's son dies he quotes to him
a verse of this poem.  See below.  I thought it was very touching and
remembered enough to find it later and then realized the that I should have
known who the author was.  Ironically it would also fit with your exhausting
theme of the sea (for which I sent in the Sea Dirge) as well as the movie
theme. However, when I read it makes me take a deep breath bittersweet with
long long thoughts.
Enjoy,
Erin

Bio of Longfellow: http://eclecticesoterica.com/longfellow_bio.html

Movie info:
http://www.cinemaclock.com/aw/crva.aw/o./p.clock/j.e/f.In_the_Bedroom/r.alb/
m.Edmonton/i.3641/sr.html

The verse quoted in the movie:

 There are things of which I may not speak;
 There are dreams that cannot die;
 There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
 And bring a pallor into the cheek,
 And a mist before the eye.
 And the words of that fatal song
 Come over me like a chill:
 'A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

41 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

MMEratcliff said...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem is indeed a lovely one, and I agree it was
used very poignantly in the film 'In the Bedroom' with Tom Wilkinson & Sissy
Spacek. In fact, the roles played by those two were superbly written (by
Andre Dubus, originally) and acted. You see, I am both those parts: I, too, lost
my only child, my 19-yr old son, to a killer on Christmas night last. Their
absolute grief, pain, frustration and anger could barely have been better
portrayed, and the action finally taken by Dr Fowler, the father of the dead
young man, had an overwhelmingly authentic and believable resonance to it - even
laudable, in my perception, and CERTAINLY understandable and logical. It
certainly galvanised me, I could validate those feelings.

Moreover, when this poker friend - who is a poet himself -
quotes the verse from Longfellow, it is in response to an awkward, recalcitrant
silence towards Dr. Fowler, keenly felt by him as - and I quote -
'pussy-footing around me'. The verse is therefore totally apposite in acknowledging that
one needs to have gone through this dreadful experience before legitimately
being able to address the awful effects it has, viz: 'There are things of
which I may not speak..there are dreams that cannot die..there are thoughts that
make the strong heart weak, and bring a pallor into the cheek, and a mist
before the eye.' My son, too, was murdered in a most horrendous way, and it
requires strength to consider it.

Monica Ratcliff
P.S. Thank you, Erin, for having looked this up from the quote, and then
posted it.

Bob Gaither said...

I'm watching "In the Bedroom" (on my laptop) and this poem is the highlight of the movie so far. Good movie, better poem.

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