Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Nature

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

In celebration of mother?s everywhere, here is a poem by one of Maine?s most important poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In it, Longfellow imagines Nature as a loving mother who guides us in our final years toward the unknown.

Nature by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a fond mother, when the day is o?er,
   Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
   Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
   And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
   Nor wholly reassured and comforted
   By promises of others in their stead,
   Which, through more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
   Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
   Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
   Being too full of sleep to understand
   How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem Copyright public Domain. Reprinted from The Maine Poets, Down East Books, 2003. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at 207-228-8263 or poetlaureate@mainewriters.org.