Half of my life is gone, and I have let The years slip from me and have not fulfilled The aspiration of my youth, to build Some tower of song with lofty parapet. Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret Of restless passions that would not be stilled, But sorrow, and a care that almost killed, Kept me from what I may accomplish yet; Though, half-way up the hill,
I see the Past Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights, — A city in the twilight dim and vast, With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights, — And hear above me on the autumnal blast The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights."Written at Boppard on the Rhine,
August 25, 1842.1.
The title means "midway through the journey" and comes from the first line of Dante's Divine Comedy: "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita." Longfellow was 35 when he wrote this poem, halfway through the scriptural lifespan of 70 years.7. possibly the death of Longfellow's first wife in 1835.