Longfellow's Bed

Naomi Shihab Nye

seems too short for a man, especially one with
such a name, but they say it stretches 6 feet.
Dark wooden sleigh with white coverlets,

bed to dive into, in another century,
to hide beyond flame and sorrow,
bed with large pillows to comfort

an aching trove of rhythms and syllables,
down by the Charles River we will go when
daylight shines. I wish I had known you, Longfellow,

but truly I did, as a small reader with a book
cracked wide, reading aloud on sleek wooden stairs
of my grandparents’ home, saying your words,

between the daylight and the dark,
swinging phrases like small lamps which have
brought me to this place

by your bed on a late day in June,
in your yellow house beside the giant linden tree,
still wondering at words and the length of a mattress.


The famous Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts was the home of the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Previously the house had been the headquarters for General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. It is now one of the USA's National Historical Sites.

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Main Location:

Longfellow House, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Other locations:

The house of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow near the River Charles in Cambridge, Mass.

Image by Daderot, licensed under Creative Commons.