Santa Filomena by Henry W. Longfellow









Santa Filomena by Henry W. Longfellow

Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,

Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,

Our hearts, in glad surprise,

To higher levels rise.


The tidal wave of deeper souls

Into our inmost being rolls

And lifts us unawares

Out of all meaner cares.


Honor to those whose words or deeds

Thus help us in our daily needs,

And by their overflow,

Raise us from what is low!


Thus thought I, as by night I read

Of the great army of the dead,

The trenches cold and damp,

The starved and frozen camp,—


The wounded from the battle-plain,

In dreary hospitals of pain,

The cheerless corridors,

The cold and stony floors.


Lo! in that house of misery

A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom,

And flit from room to room.


And slow, as in a dream of bliss,

The speechless sufferer turns to kiss

Her shadow, as it falls

Upon the darkening walls.


As if a door in heaven should be

Opened and then closed suddenly,

The vision came and went,

The light shone and was spent.


On England's annals, through the long

Hereafter of her speech and song,

That light its rays shall cast

From portals of the past.


A lady with a lamp shall stand

In the great history of the land

A noble type of good,

Heroic Womanhood.


Nor even shall be wanting here

The palm, the lily, and the spear,

The symbols that of yore

Saint Filomena bore.