When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;

Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;

He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!

They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!

And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.

With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.

And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.

Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.

Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Footsteps of Angels


  1. Ginny says:

    This poem is so touching and makes me think of all the loved ones I have loss through the years. I stumbled upon this poem when looking for something for my rp site Right Of Purity.

  2. aleck.. says:

    .. one of my favorite poem,, i can’t wait to discuss this to my classmates in our world lite,, hoping for a high grade,, hahahaha

  3. Amber says:

    Well, I came upon this poem as I was lookig for a topic for my British Literature class. This was the first poem I chose by Longfellow, because I liked the name of it, and I love this poem. This is definately the topic of my paper!

  4. Guillouët says:

    And with them the Being Beauteous,

    Who can tell me when and where Foosteps of Angels was written/published?
    (Rimbaud used the word “beauteous”. Also did LHSullivan in his Autobiography.)

  5. Amy says:

    its really funny how i can upon this poem. i asked my step dad to say the first name that poped in to his head when i asded him to give me a name of a famous poet, and he said Longfellow. so i looked him up and read a lot of his poems and chose this one to do for my american lit class. and out of all of the poems i read this is by far one of my favorites, not just by Longfellow, but other poets as well!

  6. Maureen Key says:

    I’m writing a paper on Longfellow and although his early poems, much like this one were highly criticized because of their common emotionality I truly love it. The thing about Longfellow’s poetry is that most people are able to relate to it. I think that is what makes it so great. This poem was actually based on another poem that is found in his journals entitled “Evening Shodows” which he wrote shortly after his first wife’s death. I loved that poem and later found this one which adds a few stanzas onto “Evening Shadows” including another angel or ghost of which I’m led to believe is his father. Keep reading Longfellow’s poems – they are truly special – I don’t mind saying that this one was a tear jerker for me.

  7. Lisa says:

    I really like this poem. I am studying Longfellow for a school assignment and of all the poems I have read so far I like this one the most.

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