There are novelists who are enviably skilled at plot construction, there are columnists who always manage to hit my funny bone, and there are sleb authors who send me into a red mist of fury that they ever got published. But it’s a rare thing for me to be moved to tears by a poet, as happened yesterday.
Being a Dead White Male, Henry Longfellow is out of fashion these days but The Cross of Snow, written in memory of his beloved wife who was fatally burned when her gown caught fire, is simply beautiful. I thought I’d pass it along to you. Well there’s nothing going on in my life worthy of report.
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face—the face of one long dead—
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died; and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
A new word in there for you as well. It means blessed, it rhymes with white and I think we should consider reviving its usage.