Introduction

In this poem, Longfellow traces the journey of the wind as it passes over land and ocean, ushering in fresh lively activities with daybreak. The wind becomes the messenger of the coming day as it sweeps over sea and land, proclaiming that the night is over and day has broken out.

About the Poet

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was an American writer from the nineteenth century well known for his lyric poems. A few of his famous works are Voices of the Night. Ballads and other poems, and The Songs of Hiawatha.

Theme

The theme of this poem is daybreak or dawn, and the wind that announces it.

Line 1 – 8

A wind came up out of the sea,
And said, "O mists, make room for me." 
It hailed the ships, and cried, "Sail on,
Ye mariners, the night is gone." 
And hurried landward far away,
Crying, "Awake! it is the day." 
It said unto the forest, "Shout!
Hang all your leafy banners out!" 

The poet says that a wind emerged from the sea and told the mists to make room for it. It called out to the ships and told the mariners to sail on because the night was gone. Then it hurried landward far away, crying for people to wake up because it was day. It told the forest to shout and hang all its leafy banners or branches out. Therefore, a wind came from the sea to signal that day had broken out. It told everyone to wake up because the night was over.

Line 9 – 18

It touched the wood-bird's folded wing,
And said, "O bird, awake and sing." 
And o'er the farms, "O chanticleer,
Your clarion blow; the day is near." 
It whispered to the fields of corn,
"Bow down, and hail the coming morn." 
It shouted through the belfry-tower,
"Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour." 
It crossed the churchyard with a sigh,
And said, "Not yet! in quiet lie."

The wind touched the sleeping wood-bird’s folded wing and told it to wake up and sing. As it blew over the farms, it told the rooster to sound its clarion call and announce that the day was near. It whispered to the fields of corn to bow down and hail the coming morning. It shouted through the belfry-tower, asking it to wake up and proclaim the time. And at last, it crossed the churchyard with a sigh of sadness for the dead, and said it was not yet time for them to wake up, so they should not be disturbed from their quiet sleep.