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Excelsior
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

US nineteenth century poet and author.

Best known for the poem Hiawatha (1855). His first book of poetry was Voices of the Night (1839) which included Hymn to the Night and A Psalm of Life, Ballads and Other Poems (1841) included The Village Blacksmith and The Skeleton in Armor. Among his other works are Outre-Mer: A pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (1833-34), Hyperion (1839), Poems on Slavery (1842), a drama The Spanish Student (1843), Evangeline (1847), Kavanagh and The Seaside and the Fireside (1849), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Among his last collections were The Masque of Pandora (1875) and In the Harbor (1882). He also wrote a translation of Dante (1865-6) and a trilogy Christus (1872) which incorporated an earlier work The Golden Legend.


Excelsior
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!

His brow was sad; his eye beneath
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
Excelsior!

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
Excelsior!

"Try not the Pass," the old man said;
"Dark lours the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!"
And loud that clarion voice replied,
Excelsior!

"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,
Excelsior!

"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night.
A voice replied, far up the height,
Excelsior!

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,
Excelsior!

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hands of ice
That banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,
Excelsior!


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