Once into a quiet village,
Without haste and without heed,
In the golden prime of morning,
Strayed the poet’s winged steed.
It was Autumn, and incessant
Piped the quails from shocks and sheaves,
And, like living coals, the apples
Burned among the withering leaves.
Loud the clamorous bell was ringing
From its belfry gaunt and grim;
‘T was the daily call to labor,
Not a triumph meant for him.
Not the less he saw the landscape,
In its gleaming vapor veiled;
Not the less he breathed the odors
That the dying leaves exhaled.
Thus, upon the village common,
By the school-boys he was found;
And the wise men, in their wisdom,
Put him straightway into pound.
Then the sombre village crier,
Ringing loud his brazen bell,
Wandered down the street proclaiming
There was an estray to sell.
And the curious country people,
Rich and poor, and young and old,
Came in haste to see this wondrous
Winged steed, with mane of gold.
Thus the day passed, and the evening
Fell, with vapors cold and dim;
But it brought no food nor shelter,
Brought no straw nor stall, for him.
Patiently, and still expectant,
Looked he through the wooden bars,
Saw the moon rise o’er the landscape,
Saw the tranquil, patient stars;
Till at length the bell at midnight
Sounded from its dark abode,
And, from out a neighboring farm-yard,
Loud the cock Alectryon crowed.
Then, with nostrils wide distended,
Breaking from his iron chain,
And unfolding far his pinions,
To those stars he soared again.
On the morrow, when the village
Woke to all its toil and care,
Lo! the strange steed had departed,
And they knew not when nor where.
But they found, upon the greensward
Where his struggling hoofs had trod,
Pure and bright, a fountain flowing
From the hoof-marks in the sod.
From that hour, the fount unfailing
Gladdens the whole region round,
Strengthening all who drink its waters,
While it soothes them with its sound.
The Seaside and the Fireside (1850) | Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
- Explain who Pegasus is in Greek mythology:
Pegasus, the winged horse, had been pasturing meanwhile in the meadows of the Muses. There were nine of these Muses, all sisters and all presiding over the arts of song and of memory. One took care of poets and another of those who wrote history. There was a Muse of the dance, of comedy, of astronomy, and in fact of whatever made life more worth while in the sight of the gods. They needed a kind of dream horse like Pegasus with wings to carry them on his back to Mount Olympus whenever they wanted to return from the earth.
Bellerophon had never known of the existence even of Pegasus, but when he reached the well to which the oracle had directed him, there stood Pegasus, or, rather, this horse of the Muses poised there, for his wings buoyed him so that his hoofs could scarcely remain upon the earth. When Pegasus saw the golden bridle that the goddess of Wisdom had given Bellerophon, he came directly up to the hero and stood quietly to be harnessed.
“Pegasus, the Horse Who Could Fly,” from Wonder Stories: The Best Myths for Boys and Girls by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
- Illustrate the poem.
- Of course, winged horses do not exist. Learn more about horses in general.
- Learn more about Longfellow.
- If you will be learning more Longfellow poems, create a poet/poetry notebook to include narrations, copywork, and other writing as you go.
- Older students can rewrite the poem as prose. If they are unsure of how to do this, use The Children’s Longfellow by Doris Hayman as an example.
- Older students may also wish to read “Pegasus, The Winged Horse” as retold by Nathanial Hawthorne.
14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Poetry
Ideas for doing more with the poem.
Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
While we have enjoyed this illustrated series as an introduction to various poets — Longfellow being a favorite — others might object to the sometimes-abridged versions of some poems appearing inside. The choice, as always, is yours!
Pegasus Coloring Pages