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Birds of Passage
a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Birds of Passage

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. 

Oh, 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. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Birds of Passage
- a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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