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Sonnet on Mrs. Kemble's Reading from Shakespeare

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1850

O precious evenings! all too swiftly sped!
  Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages
  Of all the best thoughts of the greatest sages,
  And giving tongues unto the silent dead!
How our hearts glowed and trembled as she read,
  Interpreting by tones the wondrous pages
  Of the great poet who foreruns the ages,
  Anticipating all that shall be said!
O happy Reader! having for thy text
  The magic book, whose Sibylline leaves have caught
  The rarest essence of all human thought!
O happy Poet! by no critic vext!
  How must thy listening spirit now rejoice
  To be interpreted by such a voice!

Published in The Seaside and the Fireside

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