blissful “Blissful” terra cotta sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

“Try not the Pass!” the old man said;
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!”
And loud that clarion voice replied,

“Oh stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!”
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

“Beware the pine tree’s withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!”
This was the peasant’s last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

At break of day, as heavenward
the pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,

A traveler, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Sill grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

18 thoughts on “EXCELSIOR!”

  1. Hi Aunt Kayti,
    Not only is the beauty of your original sculpture symbolic of the hope of a new year, your selection of Longfellow’s poem is perfect. So you memorized this? Next time I come for tea and biscuit, will you recite it? We are here in Goodyear. What a rainstorm last night! But beautiful skies that your watercolor brush could capture. Happy New Year to one of my favorite people and a constant role model. XXX00000


    1. Connecticut schools required a lot out of their students. I could still remember the first verse, but not sure about the rest. Enjoy Goodyear. I remember such happy New Years with your folks at the cabin, even Monopoly games Happy New Year 2017; we hope for “higher”.


  2. I Love this Aunt Kayti! Happy New Year soon! Hope your day is filled with love and football! (my parents would say!) Go Washington! Love to Uncle sam! Love Cindy


  3. Now, you’ve done it. Sometime in the past, I’ve read a book where a character uses (in a clearly satirical way) the exclamation, “Excelsior!” Where? I haven’t a clue, but it’s going to drive me crazy until I find it. I’m going to start with Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. I think it might be in the first or third volume. I’ve tried everything I know with Google books and such — no luck. There’s nothing like a project for a new year!

    Your sculpture’s beautiful, although I must say, after reading the poem, she looks more cold than blissful to me. No matter. She’s still lovely.

    I hope you had a fine New Year’s eve, and that your day is what every New Year’s Day should be: quiet, relaxed, filled with leftovers, football, or general lazing around. It’s warm here, with storms on the way, but we’re going to try to see the fireworks tonight that we missed last night. They canceled them because of weather, and we didn’t have a clue. No matter. We enjoyed the evening.

    Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year. I hope it’s marvelous!


    1. Given the temperature in the Alps when the “youth” decided to climb, the girl in the sculpture was probably just as cold. (grin)
      We had a nice and busy holiday. Family came, though not all at the same time. Hope yours was wonderful.
      Glad I can get back to at least looking at the computer. I need to find out what all of you are up to! I photographed all your pics of the milo. I’ll see what evolves. Probably big-time absract!

      We finally got rain, even some downpours. Not complaining though.


  4. I forwarded this lovely sculpture and poem to my German teacher so she can torture – I mean train – some of her English-learning German students with it. It’s only right given the flowery old German works she gives me. I think she will love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Though I love poetry and was raised and schooled on the classics, I somehow missed this one, so enjoyed it immensely, Kayti. It pairs well with your sculpture, which to me radiates hope, to usher in the New Year and remind us to strive ever higher and with hope.


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