"Footsteps Echo Through The Corridors Of Time"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Looking at the lights of a village gleaming through rain at night, the poet feels a strange sadness. He feels that hearing a poem may soothe his mind, but not a poem from the "great" poets, for their verses are depressing. Longfellow prefers to hear the song of "some humbler poet,/ Whose songs gushed from his heart," a poet whose hard life did not prevent him from hearing "in his soul the music/ Of wonderful melodies." The song of such a poet would be as soothing and restful as a benediction. When the beauty of the poem is complemented by the lovely voice that recites it, then "the night shall be filled with music," and the cares of the day shall "silently steal away." The poet expresses his melancholy and suggests a remedy:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.