Gateway to the Classics: Display Item
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz

May 28, 1857

It was fifty years ago

In the pleasant month of May,

In the beautiful Pays de Vaud,

A child in its cradle lay.

And Nature, the old nurse, took

The child upon her knee,

Saying: "Here is a story-book

Thy Father has written for thee.

"Come, wander with me," she said,

"Into regions yet untrod;

And read what is still unread

In the manuscripts of God."

And he wandered away and away

With Nature, the dear old nurse,

Who sang to him night and day

The rhymes of the universe.

And whenever the way seemed long,

Or his heart began to fail,

She would sing a more wonderful song,

Or tell a more marvelous tale.

So she keeps him still a child,

And will not let him go,

Though at times his heart beats wild

For the beautiful Pays de Vaud;

Though at times he hears in his dreams

The Ranz des Vaches of old,

And the rush of mountain streams

From the glaciers clear and cold;

And the mother at home says, "Hark!

For his voice I listen and yearn;

It is growing late and dark,

And my boy does not return!"