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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow in 1868 by Julia Margaret Cameron
Born February 27, 1807(1807-02-27)
Portland, Maine, United States
Died March 24, 1882 (aged 75)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Poet
Professor
Literary movement Romanticism
Signature

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American educator and poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.

Longfellow predominantly wrote lyric poems which are known for their musicality and which often presented stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.

Contents

Life and work

Early life and education

Birthplace in c. 1910

Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, to Stephen Longfellow and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow in Portland, Maine,[1] then a district of Massachusetts,[2] and he grew up in what is now known as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His father was a lawyer, and his maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, was a general in the American Revolutionary War and a Member of Congress.[3] He was named after his mother's brother Henry Wadsworth, a Navy lieutenant who died only three years earlier at the Battle of Tripoli.[4] Young Longfellow was the second of eight children;[5] his siblings were Stephen (1805), Elizabeth (1808), Anne (1810), Alexander (1814), Mary (1816), Ellen (1818), and Samuel (1819).

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was enrolled in a dame school at the age of three and by age six was enrolled at the private Portland Academy. In his years there, he earned a reputation as being very studious and became fluent in Latin.[6] His mother encouraged his enthusiasm for reading and learning, introducing him to Robinson Crusoe and Don Quixote.[7] He printed his first poem — a patriotic and historical four stanza poem called "The Battle of Lovell's Pond" — in the Portland Gazette on November 17, 1820.[8] He stayed at the Portland Academy until the age of fourteen. He spent much of his summers as a child at his grandfather Peleg's farm in the western Maine town of Hiram.

In the fall of 1822, the 15-year old Longfellow enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, alongside his brother Stephen.[6] His grandfather was a founder of the college[9] and his father was a trustee.[6] There, Longfellow met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who would later become his lifelong friend.[10] He boarded with a clergyman for a time before rooming on the third floor of what is now Maine Hall in 1823.[11] He joined the Peucinian Society, a group of students with Federalist leanings.[12] In his senior year, Longfellow wrote to his father about his aspirations:

I will not disguise it in the least... the fact is, I most eagerly aspire after future eminence in literature, my whole soul burns most ardently after it, and every earthly thought centres in it... I am almost confident in believing, that if I can ever rise in the world it must be by the exercise of my talents in the wide field of literature.[13]

He pursued his literary goals by submitting poetry and prose to various newspapers and magazines, partly due to encouragement from a professor named Thomas Cogswell Upham.[14] Between January 1824 and his graduation in 1825, he had published nearly 40 minor poems.[15] About 24 of them appeared in the short-lived Boston periodical The United States Literary Gazette.[12] When Longfellow graduated from Bowdoin, he was ranked fourth in the class, and had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.[16] He gave the student commencement address.[14]

European tours and professorships

After graduating in 1825, he was offered a job as professor of modern languages at his alma mater. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that an influential trustee, Benjamin Orr, had been so impressed by Longfellow's translation of Horace that he was hired under the condition that he travel to Europe to study French, Spanish, and Italian.[17] Whatever the motivation, he began his tour of Europe in May 1826 aboard the ship Cadmus.[18] His time abroad would last three years and cost his father $2,604.24.[19] He traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829.[20] While overseas, he learned French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, mostly without formal instruction.[21] In Madrid, he spent time with Washington Irving and was particularly impressed by the author's work ethic.[22] Irving encouraged the young Longfellow to pursue writing.[23] While in Spain, Longfellow was saddened to learn his favorite sister, Elizabeth, had died of tuberculosis at the age of 20 that May while he was abroad.[24]

On August 27, 1829, he wrote to the president of Bowdoin that he was turning down the professorship because he considered the $600 salary "disproportionate to the duties required". The trustees raised his salary to $800 with an additional $100 to serve as the college's librarian, a post which required one hour of work per day.[25] During his years teaching at the college, he wrote textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish;[26] his first published book was in 1833, a translation of the poetry of medieval Spanish poet Jorge Manrique.[27] He also published a travel book, Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea, first published in serial form before a book edition was released in 1835.[26] Shortly after the book's publication, Longfellow attempted to join the literary circle in New York and asked George Pope Morris for an editorial role at one of Morris's publications. Longfellow was considering moving to New York after New York University considered offering him a newly-created professorship of modern languages, though there would be no salary. The professorship was not created and Longfellow agreed to continue teaching at Bowdoin.[28] Nevertheless, he did not enjoy his time at Bowdoin, especially correcting exams and papers. He wrote, "I hate the sight of pen, ink, and paper... I do not believe that I was born for such a lot. I have aimed higher than this".[29]

Mary Storer Potter became Longfellow's first wife in 1831 and died four years later.

On September 14, 1831, Longfellow married Mary Storer Potter, a childhood friend from Portland.[30] The couple settled in Brunswick, though the two were not happy there.[31] Longfellow published several nonfiction and fiction prose pieces inspired by Irving, including "The Indian Summer" and "The Bald Eagle" in 1833.[32]

In December 1834, Longfellow received a letter from Josiah Quincy III, president of Harvard College, offering him the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages position with the stipulation that he spend a year or so abroad.[33] There, he further studied German as well as Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic.[34] In October 1835, during the trip, his wife Mary had a miscarriage about six months into her pregnancy.[35] She did not recover and died after several weeks of illness at the age of 22 on November 29, 1835. Longfellow had her body embalmed immediately and placed into a lead coffin inside an oak coffin which was then shipped to Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston.[36] He was deeply saddened by her death, writing "One thought occupies me night and day... She is dead—She is dead! All day I am weary and sad".[37] Three years later, he was inspired to write the poem "Footsteps of Angels" about her. Several years later, he wrote the poem "Mezzo Cammin" to express his sorrow over her death.[38] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's leader is Ismail sanders. ;)

When he returned to the United States in 1836, Longfellow took up the professorship at Harvard. He was required to live in Cambridge to be close to the campus and rented rooms at the Craggie House in the spring of 1837,[39] now preserved as the Longfellow National Historic Site. The home, built in 1759, had once been the headquarters of George Washington during the Siege of Boston beginning in July 1775.[40] Previous boarders also included Jared Sparks, Edward Everett, and Joseph Emerson Worcester.[41] Longfellow began publishing his poetry, including the collection Voices of the Night in 1839.[42] The bulk of Voices of the Night, Longfellow's debut book of poetry, was translations though he also included nine original poems and seven poems he had written as a teenager.[43] Ballads and Other Poems was published shortly thereafter in 1841[44] and included "The Village Blacksmith" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus", which were instantly popular.[45] Longfellow also became part of the local social scene, creating a group of friends who called themselves the Five of Clubs. Members included Cornelius Conway Felton, George Stillman Hillard, and Charles Sumner, the latter of whom would become Longfellow's closest friend over the next 30 years.[46] As a professor, Longfellow was well-liked, though he disliked being "constantly a playmate for boys" rather than "stretching out and grappling with men's minds."[47]

Courtship of Frances Appleton

After a seven-year courtship, Longfellow married Frances Appleton in 1843.
Longfellwo in 1846, drawing by Eastman Johnson

Longfellow began courting Frances "Fanny" Appleton, the daughter of a wealthy Boston industrialist, Nathan Appleton[48] and sister of Thomas Gold Appleton. At first, she was not interested but Longfellow was determined. In July 1839, he wrote to a friend: "[V]ictory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion".[49] His friend George Stillman Hillard encouraged Longfellow in the pursuit: "I delight to see you keeping up so stout a heart for the resolve to conquer is half the battle in love as well as war".[50] During the courtship, Longfellow frequently walked from Cambridge to the Appleton home in Beacon Hill in Boston by crossing the Boston Bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1906 by a new bridge which was later renamed the Longfellow Bridge.

During his courtship, Longfellow continued writing and, in late 1839, published Hyperion, a book in prose inspired by his trips abroad[49] and his unsuccessful courtship of Fanny Appleton.[51] Amidst this, Longfellow fell into "periods of neurotic depression with moments of panic" and took a six-month leave of absence from Harvard to attend a health spa at Marienberg in Germany.[51] After returning, Longfellow published a play in 1836, The Spanish Student, reflecting his memories from his time in Spain in the 1820s.[52] There was some confusion over its original manuscript. After being printed in Graham's Magazine, its editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold saved the manuscript from the trash. Longfellow was surprised to hear that it had been saved, unusual for a printing office, and asked to borrow it so that he could revise it, forgetting to return it to Griswold. The often vindictive Griswold wrote an angry letter in response.[53]

A small collection, Poems on Slavery, was published in 1842 as Longfellow's first public support of abolitionism. However, as Longfellow himself wrote, the poems were "so mild that even a Slaveholder might read them without losing his appetite for breakfast".[54] A critic for The Dial agreed, calling it "the thinnest of all Mr. Longfellow's thin books; spirited and polished like its forerunners; but the topic would warrant a deeper tone".[55] The New England Anti-Slavery Association, however, was satisfied with the collection enough to reprint it for further distribution.[56]

On May 10, 1843, after seven years, Longfellow received a letter from Fanny Appleton agreeing to marry him and, too restless to take a carriage, walked 90 minutes to meet her at her house.[57] They were married shortly thereafter. Nathan Appleton bought the Craigie House as a wedding present to the pair. Longfellow would live there for the remainder of his life.[58] His love for Fanny is evident in the following lines from Longfellow's only love poem, the sonnet "The Evening Star",[59] which he wrote in October 1845: "O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus! My morning and my evening star of love!" He once attended a ball without her and noted, "The lights seemed dimmer, the music sadder, the flowers fewer, and the women less fair."[60]

He and Fanny had six children: Charles Appleton (1844–1893), Ernest Wadsworth (1845–1921), Fanny (1847–1848), Alice Mary (1850–1928), Edith (1853–1915), and Anne Allegra (1855–1934). Their second-youngest daughter, Edith, married Richard Henry Dana III, son of the popular writer Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of Two Years Before the Mast.[61] When the younger Fanny was born on April 7, 1847, Dr. Nathan Cooley Keep administered ether as the first obstetric anesthetic in the United States to Fanny Longfellow.[62] A few months later, on November 1, 1847, the poem "Evangeline" was published for the first time.[62] His literary income was increasing considerably: in 1840, he had made $219 from his work but the year 1850 brought him $1,900.[63]

On June 14, 1853, Longfellow held a farewell dinner party at his Cambridge home for his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was preparing to move overseas.[64] Shortly thereafter in 1854, Longfellow retired from Harvard,[65] devoting himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Laws from Harvard in 1859.[66]

Death of Frances

On July 9, 1861,[67] a hot day, Fanny was putting locks of her children's hair into an envelope and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax while Longfellow took a nap.[68] Her dress suddenly caught fire, though it is unclear exactly how;[69] it may have been burning wax or a lighted candle which fell on her dress.[70] Longfellow, awoken from his nap, rushed to help her and threw a rug over her, though it was too small. He stifled the flames with his body as best he could, but she was already badly burned.[69] Over a half a century later, Longfellow's youngest daughter Annie explained the story differently, claiming that there was no candle or wax but that the fire started from a self-lighting match that had fallen on the floor.[61] In both versions of the story, however, Fanny was taken to her room to recover and a doctor was called. She was in and out of consciousness throughout the night and was administered ether. The next morning, July 10, 1861, she died shortly after 10 o'clock after requesting a cup of coffee.[71] Longfellow, in trying to save her, had burned himself badly enough that he was unable to attend her funeral.[72] His facial injuries caused him to stop shaving, thereafter wearing the beard which has become his trademark.[71]

Devastated by her death, he never fully recovered and occasionally resorted to laudanum and ether to deal with it.[73] He worried he would go insane and begged "not to be sent to an asylum" and noted that he was "inwardly bleeding to death".[74] He expressed his grief in the sonnet "The Cross of Snow" (1879), which he wrote eighteen years later to commemorate her death:[38]

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.[74]

Later life and death

Grave of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. To aid him in perfecting the translation and reviewing proofs, he invited friends to weekly meetings every Wednesday starting in 1864.[75] The "Dante Club", as it was called, regularly included William Dean Howells, James Russell Lowell, Charles Eliot Norton and other occasional guests.[76] The full three-volume translation was published in the spring of 1867, though Longfellow would continue to revise it,[77] and it went through four printings in its first year.[78] By 1868, Longfellow's annual income was over $48,000.[79]

During the 1860s, Longfellow supported abolitionism and especially hoped for reconciliation between the northern and southern states after the American Civil War. He wrote in his journal in 1878: "I have only one desire; and that is for harmony, and a frank and honest understanding between North and South".[80] Longfellow, despite his aversion to public speaking, accepted an offer from Joshua Chamberlain to speak at his fiftieth reunion at Bowdoin College; he read the poem "Morituri Salutamus" so quietly that few could hear him.[81] The next year, 1876, he declined an offer to be nominated for the Board of Overseers at Harvard "for reasons very conclusive to my own mind".[82]

On August 22, 1879, a female admirer traveled to Longfellow's house in Cambridge and, unaware to whom she was speaking, asked Longfellow: "Is this the house where Longfellow was born?" Longfellow told her it was not. The visitor then asked if he had died here. "Not yet", he replied.[83] In March 1882, Longfellow went to bed with severe stomach pain. He endured the pain for several days with the help of opium before he died surrounded by family on Friday, March 24, 1882.[84] He had been suffering from peritonitis.[85] At the time of his death, his estate was worth an estimated $356,320.[79] He is buried with both of his wives at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His last few years were spent translating the poetry of Michelangelo; though Longfellow never considered it complete enough to be published during his lifetime, a posthumous edition was collected in 1883. Scholars generally regard the work as autobiographical, reflecting the translator as an aging artist facing his impending death.[86]

Writing

Style

Longfellow circa 1850s

Though much of his work is categorized as lyric poetry, Longfellow experimented with many forms, including hexameter and free verse.[87] His published poetry shows great versatility, using anapestic and trochaic forms, blank verse, heroic couplets, ballads and sonnets.[88] Typically, Longfellow would carefully consider the subject of his poetic ideas for a long time before deciding on the right metrical form for it.[89] Much of his work is recognized for its melody-like musicality.[90] As he says, "what a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen".[91]

As a very private man, Longfellow did not believe in adding autobiographical elements to his poetry. Two exceptions are dedicated to the death of members of his family. "Resignation", written as a response to the death of his daughter Fanny in 1848, does not use first-person pronouns and is instead a generalized poem of mourning.[92] The death of his second wife Frances, as biographer Charles Calhoun wrote, deeply affected Longfellow personally but "seemed not to touch his poetry, at least directly".[93] His memorial poem to her, a sonnet called "The Cross of Snow", was not published in his lifetime.[92]

Longfellow often used didacticism in his poetry, though he focused on it less in his later years.[94] Much of his poetry imparts cultural and moral values, particularly focused on promoting life as being more than material pursuits.[95] Longfellow often used allegory in his work. In "Nature", for example, death is depicted as bedtime for a cranky child.[96] Many of the metaphors he used in his poetry as well as subject matter came from legends, mythology, and literature.[97] He was inspired, for example, by Norse mythology for "The Skeleton in Armor" and by Finnish legends for The Song of Hiawatha.[98] In fact, Longfellow rarely wrote on current subjects and seemed detached from contemporary American concerns.[99] Even so, Longfellow, like many during this period, called for the development of high quality American literature. In Kavanagh, a character says:

We want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers... We want a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country... We want a national drama in which scope shall be given to our gigantic ideas and to the unparalleled activity of our people... In a word, we want a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies.[100]

He was also important as a translator; his translation of Dante became a required possession for those who wanted to be a part of high culture.[101] He also encouraged and supported other translators. In 1845, he published The Poets and Poetry of Europe, an 800-page compilation of translations made by other writers, including many by his friend and colleague Cornelius Conway Felton. Longfellow intended the anthology "to bring together, into a compact and convenient form, as large an amount as possible of those English translations which are scattered through many volumes, and are not accessible to the general reader".[102] In honor of Longfellow's role with translations, Harvard established the Longfellow Institute in 1994, dedicated to literature written in the United States in languages other than English.[103]

In 1874, Longfellow oversaw a 31-volume anthology called Poems of Places, which collected poems representing several geographical locations, including European, Asian, and Arabian countries.[104] Emerson was disappointed and reportedly told Longfellow: "The world is expecting better things of you than this... You are wasting time that should be bestowed upon original production".[105] In preparing the volume, Longfellow hired Katherine Sherwood Bonner as an amanuensis.[106]

Critical response

Longfellow and his good friend Senator Charles Sumner

Longfellow's early collections, Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems, made him instantly popular. The New-Yorker called him "one of the very few in our time who has successfully aimed in putting poetry to its best and sweetest uses".[45] The Southern Literary Messenger immediately put Longfellow "among the first of our American poets".[45] Poet John Greenleaf Whittier said that Longfellow's poetry illustrated "the careful moulding by which art attains the graceful ease and chaste simplicity of nature".[107] Longfellow's friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote of him as "our chief singer" and one who "wins and warms... kindles, softens, cheers [and] calms the wildest woe and stays the bitterest tears!"[108]

The rapidity with which American readers embraced Longfellow was unparalleled in publishing history in the United States;[109] by 1874, he was earning $3,000 per poem.[110] His popularity spread throughout Europe as well and his poetry was translated during his lifetime into Italian, French, German, and other languages.[111] As scholar Bliss Perry later wrote, Longfellow was so highly praised that criticizing him was a criminal act like "carrying a rifle into a national park".[112] In the last two decades of his life, he often received requests for autographs from strangers, which he always sent.[113] John Greenleaf Whittier suggested it was this massive correspondence that led to Longfellow's death, writing: "My friend Longfellow was driven to death by these incessant demands".[114]

Contemporary writer Edgar Allan Poe wrote to Longfellow in May 1841 of his "fervent admiration which [your] genius has inspired in me" and later called him "unquestionably the best poet in America".[115] However, after Poe's reputation as a critic increased, he publicly accused Longfellow of plagiarism in what has been since termed by Poe biographers as "The Longfellow War".[116] His assessment was that Longfellow was "a determined imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people",[115] specifically Alfred, Lord Tennyson.[117] His accusations may have been a publicity stunt to boost readership of the Broadway Journal, for which he was the editor at the time.[118] Longfellow did not respond publicly, but, after Poe's death, he wrote: "The harshness of his criticisms I have never attributed to anything but the irritation of a sensitive nature chafed by some indefinite sense of wrong".[119]

Margaret Fuller judged him "artificial and imitative" and lacking force.[120] Poet Walt Whitman also considered Longfellow an imitator of European forms, though he praised his ability to reach a popular audience as "the expressor of common themes – of the little songs of the masses".[121] Lewis Mumford said that Longfellow could be completely removed from the history of literature without much effect.[99] Towards the end of his life, contemporaries considered him more of a children's poet[122] as many of his readers were children.[123] A contemporary reviewer noted in 1848 that Longfellow was creating a "Goody two-shoes kind of literature... slipshod, sentimental stories told in the style of the nursery, beginning in nothing and ending in nothing".[124] A more modern critic said, "Who, except wretched schoolchildren, now reads Longfellow?"[99] A London critic in the London Quarterly Review, however, condemned all American poetry, saying, "with two or three exceptions, there is not a poet of mark in the whole union" but singled out Longfellow as one of those exceptions.[125] As an editor of the Boston Evening Transcript wrote in 1846, "Whatever the miserable envy of trashy criticism may write against Longfellow, one thing is most certain, no American poet is more read".[126]

Legacy

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia and Katherine C. Tobin, member of the USPS Board of Governors, unveil the new U.S. postage stamp in honor of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 2007.

Longfellow was the most popular poet of his day[127] and is generally regarded as the most distinguished poet the country had produced. As a friend once wrote to him, "no other poet was so fully recognized in his lifetime".[128] Many of his works helped shape the American character and its legacy, particularly with the poem "Paul Revere's Ride".[112] He was such an admired figure in the United States during his life that his 70th birthday in 1877 took on the air of a national holiday, with parades, speeches, and the reading of his poetry.

The US Post Office issued its first H. W. Longfellow commemorative stamp in 1940

He had become one of the first American celebrities and was also popular in Europe. It was reported that 10,000 copies of The Courtship of Miles Standish sold in London in a single day.[129] Children adored him and, when the "spreading chestnut-tree" mentioned in the poem "The Village Blacksmith" was cut down, the children of Cambridge had the tree converted into an armchair which they presented to the poet.[130] In 1884, Longfellow became the first non-British writer for whom a commemorative sculpted bust was placed in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey in London; he remains the only American poet represented with a bust.[131] Over the years, Longfellow's personality has become part of his reputation. He has been presented as a gentle, placid, poetic soul: an image perpetuated by his brother Samuel Longfellow, who wrote an early biography which specifically emphasized these points.[132] As James Russell Lowell said, Longfellow had an "absolute sweetness, simplicity, and modesty".[119] At Longfellow's funeral, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson called him "a sweet and beautiful soul".[133] In reality, Longfellow's life was much more difficult than was assumed. He suffered from neuralgia, which caused him constant pain, and he also had poor eyesight. He wrote to friend Charles Sumner: "I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart".[134] He had difficulty coping with the death of his second wife.[73] Longfellow was very quiet, reserved, and private; in later years, he was known for being unsocial and avoided leaving home.[135] Over time, Longfellow's popularity rapidly declined, beginning shortly after his death and into the 20th century as academics began to appreciate poets like Walt Whitman, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Robert Frost.[136] In the 20th century, literary scholar Kermit Vanderbilt noted, "Increasingly rare is the scholar who braves ridicule to justify the art of Longfellow's popular rhymings."[137] More recently, he was honored in March 2007 when the United States Postal Service made a stamp commemorating him. A number of schools are named after him in various states as well. Neil Diamond's 1974 hit song, "Longfellow Serenade", is a reference to the poet.[138] He is a protagonist in Matthew Pearl's murder mystery The Dante Club (2003).[139]

List of works

"The Village Blacksmith" (manuscript page 1)
  • Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (Travelogue) (1835)
  • Hyperion, a Romance (1839)
  • The Spanish Student. A Play in Three Acts (1843)[52]
  • Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (epic poem) (1847)
  • "Kavanagh: A Tale" (1849)
  • "The Golden Legend" (poem) (1851)
  • The Song of Hiawatha (epic poem) (1855)
  • The Children's Hour (1860)
  • Household Poems (1865)
  • The New England Tragedies (1868)
  • The Divine Tragedy (1871)
  • Christus: A Mystery (1872)
  • "Aftermath" (poem) (1873)
  • The Reaper and the Flowers (1839)
  • The Bell of Atri (from The Sicilian's Tale) (1863–72)
Poetry collections
  • Voices of the Night (1839)
  • Ballads and Other Poems (1841)
  • Poems on Slavery (1842)
  • The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845)
  • Birds of Passage (1845)
  • The Seaside and the Fireside (1850)
  • The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems (1858)
  • Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863)
  • Flower-de-Luce (1867)
  • Three Books of Song (1872)[104]
  • The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems (1875)[104]
  • Kéramos and Other Poems (1878)[104]
  • Ultima Thule (1880)[104]
  • In the Harbor (1882)[104]
  • Michel Angelo: A Fragment (incomplete; published posthumously)[104]
Translations
  • Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique (Translation from Spanish) (1833)
  • Dante's Divine Comedy (Translation) (1867)
Anthologies
  • Poets and Poetry of Europe (Translations) (1844)[52]
  • The Waif (1845)[52]
  • Poems of Places (1874)[104]

References

  1. ^ Calhoun, 5
  2. ^ Sullivan, 180
  3. ^ Wadsworth-Longfellow Genealogy at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - A Maine Historical Society Web Site
  4. ^ Arvin, 7
  5. ^ Thompson, 16
  6. ^ a b c Arvin, 11
  7. ^ Sullivan, 181
  8. ^ Calhoun, 24
  9. ^ Calhoun, 16
  10. ^ McFarland, 58-59
  11. ^ Calhoun, 33
  12. ^ a b Calhoun, 37
  13. ^ Arvin, 13
  14. ^ a b Sullivan, 184
  15. ^ Arvin, 14
  16. ^ Who Belongs To Phi Beta Kappa, ’Phi Beta Kappa website’’, accessed Oct 4, 2009
  17. ^ Calhoun, 40
  18. ^ Arvin, 22
  19. ^ Calhoun, 42
  20. ^ Arvin, 26
  21. ^ Sullivan, 186
  22. ^ Jones, Brian Jay. Washington Irving: An American Original. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2008: 242. ISBN 978-1-55970836-4
  23. ^ Burstein, Andrew. The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving. New York: Basic Books, 2007: 195. ISBN 9780465008537.
  24. ^ Calhoun, 67
  25. ^ Calhoun, 69
  26. ^ a b Williams, 66
  27. ^ Irmscher, 225
  28. ^ Thompson, 199
  29. ^ Sullivan, 187
  30. ^ Calhoun, 90
  31. ^ Arvin, 28
  32. ^ Williams, 108
  33. ^ Arvin, 30
  34. ^ Sullivan, 189
  35. ^ Calhoun, 114–115
  36. ^ Calhoun, 118
  37. ^ Sullivan, 190
  38. ^ a b Arvin, 305
  39. ^ Calhoun, 124
  40. ^ Calhoun, 124–125
  41. ^ Brooks, 153
  42. ^ Calhoun, 137
  43. ^ Gioia, 75
  44. ^ Williams, 75
  45. ^ a b c Calhoun, 138
  46. ^ Calhoun, 135
  47. ^ Sullivan, 191
  48. ^ Calhoun, 119
  49. ^ a b McFarland, 59
  50. ^ Thompson, 258
  51. ^ a b Sullivan, 192
  52. ^ a b c d Calhoun, 179
  53. ^ Bayless, 130–131
  54. ^ Irmscher, 60
  55. ^ Thompson, 332
  56. ^ Wagenknecht, 56
  57. ^ Calhoun, 164–165
  58. ^ Arvin, 51
  59. ^ Arvin, 304
  60. ^ Sullivan, 193
  61. ^ a b Calhoun, 217
  62. ^ a b Calhoun, 189
  63. ^ Williams, 19
  64. ^ McFarland, 198
  65. ^ Brooks, 453
  66. ^ Calhoun, 198
  67. ^ Miller, 91
  68. ^ McFarland, 243
  69. ^ a b Calhoun, 215
  70. ^ Arvin, 138
  71. ^ a b McFarland, 244
  72. ^ Arvin, 139
  73. ^ a b Calhoun, 218
  74. ^ a b Sullivan, 197
  75. ^ Arvin, 140
  76. ^ Calhoun, 236
  77. ^ Irmscher, 263
  78. ^ Irmscher, 268
  79. ^ a b Williams, 100
  80. ^ Irmscher, 205
  81. ^ Calhoun, 240–241
  82. ^ Wagenknecht, 40
  83. ^ Irmscher, 7
  84. ^ Calhoun, 248
  85. ^ Wagenknecht, 11
  86. ^ Irmscher, 137–139
  87. ^ Arvin, 182
  88. ^ Williams, 130
  89. ^ Williams, 156
  90. ^ Brooks, 174
  91. ^ Wagenknecht, 145
  92. ^ a b Irmscher, 46
  93. ^ Calhoun, 229
  94. ^ Arvin, 183
  95. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007: 630–631. ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7
  96. ^ Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. University of California Press, 1999: 52. ISBN 0520226879.
  97. ^ Arvin, 186
  98. ^ Brooks, 175–176
  99. ^ a b c Arvin, 321
  100. ^ Lewis, R. W. B. The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1955: 79.
  101. ^ Calhoun, 237
  102. ^ Irmscher, 231
  103. ^ Irmscher, 21
  104. ^ a b c d e f g h Calhoun, 242
  105. ^ Irmscher, 200
  106. ^ Wagenknecht, 185
  107. ^ Wagenknecht, Edward. John Greenleaf Whittier: A Portrait in Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967: 113.
  108. ^ Sullivan, 177
  109. ^ Calhoun, 139
  110. ^ Levine, Miriam. A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Books, 1984: 127. ISBN 0-918222-51-6
  111. ^ Irmscher, 218
  112. ^ a b Sullivan, 178
  113. ^ Calhoun, 245
  114. ^ Irmscher, 36
  115. ^ a b Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 171. ISBN 0815410387.
  116. ^ Silverman, 250
  117. ^ Silverman, 251
  118. ^ Calhoun, 160
  119. ^ a b Wagenknecht, 144
  120. ^ McFarland, 170
  121. ^ Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Vintage Books, 1995: 353. ISBN 0679767096.
  122. ^ Calhoun, 246
  123. ^ Brooks, 455
  124. ^ Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977: 235. ISBN 0-394-40532-3
  125. ^ Silverman, 199
  126. ^ Irmscher, 20
  127. ^ Bayless, 40
  128. ^ Gioia, 65
  129. ^ Brooks, 523
  130. ^ Sullivan, 198
  131. ^ Williams, 21
  132. ^ Williams, 18
  133. ^ Williams, 197
  134. ^ Wagenknecht, 16–17
  135. ^ Wagenknecht, 34
  136. ^ Williams, 23
  137. ^ Gioia, 68
  138. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 150.
  139. ^ Calhoun, 258

Sources

  • Arvin, Newton. Longfellow: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963.
  • Bayless, Joy. Rufus Wilmot Griswold: Poe's Literary Executor. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943.
  • Brooks, Van Wyck. The Flowering of New England. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1952.
  • Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. ISBN 0807070262.
  • Gioia, Dana. "Longfellow in the Aftermath of Modernism". The Columbia History of American Poetry, edited by Jay Parini. Columbia University Press, 1993. ISBN 0231078366</ref>
  • Irmscher, Christoph. Longfellow Redux. University of Illinois, 2006. ISBN 9780252030635.
  • McFarland, Philip. Hawthorne in Concord. New York: Grove Press, 2004. ISBN 0802117767.
  • Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. ISBN 0060923318.
  • Thompson, Lawrance. Young Longfellow (1807–1843). New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938.
  • Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Williams, Cecil B. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964.
  • Sullivan, Wilson. New England Men of Letters. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972. ISBN 0027886808.

External links

Sources

Other


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (27 February 180724 March 1882) was an American poet and one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets.

Contents

Sourced

  • Music is the universal language of mankind — poetry their universal pastime and delight.
    • Outre-Mer
  • I heard the trailing garments of the Night
    Sweep through her marble halls!
    I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
    From the celestial walls!
  • There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
    And, with his sickle keen,
    He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
    And the flowers that grow between.
  • Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
  • Thus, seamed with many scars
    Bursting these prison bars,
    Up to its native stars
    My soul ascended!
    There from the flowing bowl
    Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
    Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!
    —Thus the tale ended.
  • No one is so accursed by fate,
    No one so utterly desolate,
    But some heart, though unknown,
    Responds unto his own.
  • Into each life some rain must fall,
    Some days must be dark and dreary.
  • I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
    The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
    It consecrates each grave within its walls,
    And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.
  • Standing, with reluctant feet,
    Where the brook and river meet,
    Womanhood and childhood fleet!
  • 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,
    Excelsior!
  • Stars of the summer night!
    Far in yon azure deeps,
    Hide, hide your golden light!
    She sleeps!
    My lady sleeps!
  • I stood on the bridge at midnight,
    As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose o'er the city,
    Behind the dark church-tower.
  • Never here, forever there,
    Where all parting, pain, and care,
    And death, and time shall disappear,—
    Forever there, but never here!
    The horologe of Eternity
    Sayeth this incessantly,—
    "Forever--never!
    Never--forever!"
  • And the song, from beginning to end,
    I found again in the heart of a friend.
    • The Arrow and the Song, st. 3
  • Ah, how wonderful is the advent of spring! — the great annual miracle of the blossoming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and myriads of branches! — the gentle progression and growth of herbs, flowers, trees, — gentle and yet irrepressible, — which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change! But now the silent succession suggests nothing but necessity. To most men only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be.
    • "Kavanagh : A Tale" (1849) Ch. 13
  • I am more afraid of deserving criticism than of receiving it. I stand in awe of my own opinion. The secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are conscious, are often more difficult to bear than those which have been publicly censured in us, and thus in some degree atoned for.
    • Kavanagh : A Tale (1849) Ch. 30
  • Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
    • Kavanagh : A Tale (1849) Ch. 30
  • There is no flock, however watched and tended,
    But one dead lamb is there!
    There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
    But has one vacant chair!
  • There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
    This life of mortal breath
    Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
    Whose portal we call Death.
    • Resignation, st. 5
  • Nothing useless is, or low;
    Each thing in its place is best;
    And what seems but idle show
    Strengthens and supports the rest.
  • God sent his Singers upon earth
    With songs of sadness and of mirth,
    That they might touch the hearts of men,
    And bring them back to heaven again.
  • But the great Master said, "I see
    No best in kind, but in degree;
    I gave a various gift to each,
    To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.
    • The Singers, st. 6
  • If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
    Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
    If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!
  • But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,
    Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,
    Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes over-running with laughter,
    Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?
    • The Courtship of Miles Standish, Pt. III, The Lover's Errand
  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
    • Driftwood (1857)
  • Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
    That of our vices we can frame
    A ladder, if we will but tread
    Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
  • The heights by great men reached and kept
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    But they, while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night.
    • The Ladder of St. Augustine, st. 10
  • The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep
    Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind's breath,
    While underneath such leafy tents they keep
    The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.
  • A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
  • A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
    In the great history of the land,
    A noble type of good,
    Heroic womanhood.
  • Ye are better than all the ballads
    That ever were sung or said;
    For ye are living poems,
    And all the rest are dead.
  • Between the dark and the daylight,
    When the night is beginning to lower,
    Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
    That is known as the Children's Hour.
  • I hear in the chamber above me
    The patter of little feet,
    The sound of a door that is opened,
    And voices soft and sweet.
    • The Children's Hour, St. 2
  • Time has laid his hand
    Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it,
    But as a harper lays his open palm
    Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.
  • The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
    Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!
    • The Golden Legend, Pt. V, A Covered Bridge at Lucerne
  • Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
    To something new, to something strange;
    Nothing that is can pause or stay;
    The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
    The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
    The rain to mist and cloud again,
    To-morrow be to-day.
  • Art is the child of Nature; yes,
    Her darling child, in whom we trace
    The features of the mother's face,
    Her aspect and her attitude,
    All her majestic loveliness
    Chastened and softened and subdued
    Into a more attractive grace,
    And with a human sense imbued.
    He is the greatest artist, then,
    Whether of pencil or of pen,
    Who follows Nature.
    • Kéramo, st. 29
  • Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
    The second of desire, the third of thought;
    This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught
    With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.
  • The holiest of all holidays are those
    Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
    The secret anniversaries of the heart,
    When the full river of feeling overflows.
  • In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
    A gentle face — the face of one long dead —
    Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
    The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
  • Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending;
    Many a poem is marred by a superfluous verse.
  • There was a little girl,
    Who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.
  • O Bells of San Blas in vain
    Ye call back the Past again;
    The Past is deaf to your prayer!
    Out of the shadows of night
    The world rolls into light;
    It is daybreak everywhere.
  • Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
    Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.

A Psalm of Life (1839)

  • Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    "Life is but an empty dream!"
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.
    • St. 1
  • Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.
    • St. 2
  • Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Finds us further than to-day.
    • St. 3
  • Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.
    • St. 4
  • Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act, act in the living present!
    Heart within, and God o'erhead!
    • St. 6
  • Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;
    • St. 7
  • Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Travelling o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.
    • St. 8
  • Let us, then, be up and doing.
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.
    • St. 9

The Wreck of the Hesperus (1842)

  • It was the schooner Hesperus,
    That sailed the wintry sea;
    And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
    To bear him company.
    • St. 1
  • "O father! I see a gleaming light.
    Oh say, what may it be?"
    But the father answered never a word,
    A frozen corpse was he.
    • St. 12
  • Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
    In the midnight and the snow!
    Christ save us all from a death like this,
    On the reef of Norman's Woe!
    • St. 22

The Village Blacksmith (1842)

  • Under a spreading chestnut-tree
    The village smithy stands;
    The smith, a mighty man is he,
    With large and sinewy hands;
    And the muscles of his brawny arms
    Are strong as iron bands.
    • St. 1
  • His brow is wet with honest sweat,
    He earns whate'er he can,
    And looks the whole world in the face,
    For he owes not any man.
    • St. 2
  • Each morning sees some task begin,
    Each evening sees it close
    Something attempted, something done,
    Has earned a night's repose.
    • St. 7

The Day is Done (1845)

  • The day is done, and the darkness
    Falls from the wings of Night,
    As a feather is wafted downward
    From an eagle in his flight.
    • St. 1
  • A feeling of sadness and longing,
    That is not akin to pain,
    And resembles sorrow only
    As the mist resembles the rain.
    • St. 3
  • Come, read to me some poem,
    Some simple and heartfelt lay,
    That shall soothe this restless feeling,
    And banish the thoughts of day.
    • St. 4
  • Not from the grand old masters,
    Not from the bards sublime,
    Whose distant footsteps echo
    Through the corridors of Time.
    • St. 5
  • Read from some humbler poet,
    Whose songs gushed from his heart,
    As showers from the clouds of summer,
    Or tears from the eyelids start.
    • St. 7
  • And the night shall be filled with music,
    And the cares, that infest the day,
    Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
    And as silently steal away.
    • St. 11

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (1847)

  • This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
    • Prelude
  • Alike were they free from
    Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
    Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
    But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of their owners;
    There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
    • Pt. I, sec. 1
  • When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
    • Pt. I, sec. 1
  • Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
    Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
    • Pt. I, sec. 3
  • Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
    If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
    Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
    That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
    • Pt. II, sec. 1

The Building of the Ship (1849)

  • Build me straight, O worthy Master!
    Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
    That shall laugh at all disaster,
    And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!
    • l. 1-4
  • And see! she stirs!
    She starts,—she moves,—she seems to feel
    The thrill of life along her keel,
    And, spurning with her foot the ground,
    With one exulting, joyous bound,
    She leaps into the ocean's arms!
    • l. 349-354
  • Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
    Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
    Humanity with all its fears,
    With all the hopes of future years,
    Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
    • l. 378-382
  • Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
    Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
    Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
    Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
    • l. 396-399

The Song of Hiawatha (1855)

  • All your strength is in your union,
    All your danger is in discord;
    Therefore be at peace henceforward,
    And as brothers live together.
    • Pt. I, The Peace-Pipe, st. 13
  • By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
    By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
    Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
    • Pt. III, Hiawatha’s Childhood, st. 8
  • From the water-fall he named her,
    Minnehaha, Laughing Water.
    • Pt. IV, Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis, st. 33
  • As unto the bow the cord is,
    So unto the man is woman;
    Though she bends him, she obeys him,
    Though she draws him, yet she follows,
    Useless each without the other!
    • Pt. X, Hiawatha's Wooing, st. 1
  • By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
    By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    At the doorway of his wigwam,
    In the pleasant Summer morning,
    Hiawatha stood and waited.
    • Pt. XXII, Hiawatha's Departure, st. 1
  • Thus departed Hiawatha,
    Hiawatha the Beloved,
    In the glory of the sunset,
    In the purple mists of evening,
    To the regions of the home-wind,
    Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
    To the Islands of the Blessed,
    To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
    To the Land of the Hereafter!
    • Pt. XXII, Hiawatha's Departure, st. 29

Table-Talk (1857)

First published in the Blue and Gold edition of Drift-Wood (1857)
Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, — but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
Divine madness enters more or less into all our noblest undertakings.
We can hardly wonder that there should be so many resemblances and coincidences of expression among poets, but rather that they are not more numerous and more striking.
  • Don Quixote thought he could have made beautiful bird-cages and toothpicks if his brain had not been so full of ideas of chivalry. Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
  • A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
  • Doubtless criticism was originally benignant, pointing out the beauties of a work, rather than its defects. The passions of men have made it malignant, as the bad heart of Procrustes turned the bed, the symbol of repose, into an instrument of torture.
  • We often excuse our own want of philanthropy by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.
  • Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, — but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.
  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
  • As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain.
  • The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries. And perhaps it would be well for our race if the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Man were as inevitable as the punishment of crimes against the Laws of Nature, — were Man as unerring in his judgments as Nature.
  • Round about what is, lies a whole mysterious world of might be, — a psychological romance of possibilities and things that do not happen. By going out a few minutes sooner or later, by stopping to speak with a friend at a corner, by meeting this man or that, or by turning down this street instead of the other, we may let slip some great occasion of good, or avoid some impending evil, by which the whole current of our lives would have been changed. There is no possible solution to the dark enigma but the one word, "Providence."
  • "Let us build such a church, that those who come after us shall take us for madmen," said the old canon of Seville, when the great cathedral was planned. Perhaps through every mind passes some such thought, when it first entertains the design of a great and seemingly impossible action, the end of which it dimly foresees. This divine madness enters more or less into all our noblest undertakings.
    • Here Longfellow is translating or paraphrasing an expression attributed to a canon of Seville, also quoted as "we shall have a church so great and of such a kind that those who see it built will think we were mad."
  • I feel a kind of reverence for the first books of young authors. There is so much aspiration in them, so much audacious hope and trembling fear, so much of the heart's history, that all errors and short-comings are for a while lost sight of in the amiable self-assertion of youth.
  • Authors have a greater right than any copyright, though it is generally unacknowledged or disregarded. They have a right to the reader's civility. There are favorable hours for reading a book, as for writing it, and to these the author has a claim. Yet many people think that when they buy a book they buy with it the right to abuse the author.
  • Love makes its record in deeper colors as we grow out of childhood into manhood; as the Emperors signed their names in green ink when under age, but when of age, in purple.
  • When we reflect that all the aspects of Nature, all the emotions of the soul, and all the events of life, have been the subjects of poetry for hundreds and thousands of years, we can hardly wonder that there should be so many resemblances and coincidences of expression among poets, but rather that they are not more numerous and more striking.
  • The first pressure of sorrow crushes out from our hearts the best wine; afterwards the constant weight of it brings forth bitterness, — the taste and stain from the lees of the vat.
  • The tragic element in poetry is like Saturn in alchemy, — the Malevolent, the Destroyer of Nature ; but without it no true Aurum Potabile, or Elixir of Life, can be made.

Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863-1874)

  • Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.
  • One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
    And I on the opposite shore will be,
    Ready to ride and spread the alarm
    Through every Middlesex village and farm
    For the country folk to be up and to arm.
  • And yet, through the gloom and the light,
    The fate of a nation was riding that night.
  • His form was ponderous, and his step was slow;
    There never was so wise a man before;
    He seemed the incarnate "Well, I told you so!"
    • Pt. I, The Poet's Tale: The Birds of Killingworth, st. 9
  • Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
    Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
    So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
    Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
    • Pt. III, The Theologian's Tale: Elizabeth, sec. IV
  • And suddenly through the drifting brume
    The blare of the horns began to ring.
    • King Olaf's War-Horns, st. 2

Morituri Salutamus (1875)

  • Let him not boast who puts his armor on
    As he who puts it off, the battle done.
    Study yourselves; and most of all note well
    Wherein kind Nature meant you to excel.
    Not every blossom ripens into fruit.
    • St. 11
  • And now, my classmates; ye remaining few
    That number not the half of those we knew,
    Ye, against whose familiar names not yet
    The fatal asterisk of death is set,
    Ye I salute!
    • St. 13
  • The scholar and the world! The endless strife,
    The discord in the harmonies of life!
    The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
    And all the sweet serenity of books;
    The market-place, the eager love of gain,
    Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain!
    • St. 23
  • Ah, nothing is too late
    Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
    • St. 24
  • For age is opportunity no less
    Than youth itself, though in another dress,
    And as the evening twilight fades away
    The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
    • St. 25

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Born February 27, 1807(1807-02-27)
Portland, Maine, United States
Died March 24, 1882 (aged 75)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Poet
Professor
Literary movement Romanticism
Signature File:HWLongfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American educator and poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.

Longfellow predominantly wrote lyric poems which are known for their musicality and which often presented stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.

Contents

Life and work

Early life and education

Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, to Stephen Longfellow and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow in Portland, Maine,[1] then a district of Massachusetts,[2] and he grew up in what is now known as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His father was a lawyer, and his maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, was a general in the American Revolutionary War and a Member of Congress.[3] He was named after his mother's brother Henry Wadsworth, a Navy lieutenant who died only three years earlier at the Battle of Tripoli.[4] Young Longfellow was the second of eight children;[5] his siblings were Stephen (1805), Elizabeth (1808), Anne (1810), Alexander (1814), Mary (1816), Ellen (1818), and Samuel (1819).

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was enrolled in a dame school at the age of three and by age six was enrolled at the private Portland Academy. In his years there, he earned a reputation as being very studious and became fluent in Latin.[6] His mother encouraged his enthusiasm for reading and learning, introducing him to Robinson Crusoe and Don Quixote.[7] He printed his first poem — a patriotic and historical four stanza poem called "The Battle of Lovell's Pond" — in the Portland Gazette on November 17, 1820.[8] He stayed at the Portland Academy until the age of fourteen. He spent much of his summers as a child at his grandfather Peleg's farm in the western Maine town of Hiram.

In the fall of 1822, the 15-year old Longfellow enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, alongside his brother Stephen.[6] His grandfather was a founder of the college[9] and his father was a trustee.[6] There, Longfellow met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who would later become his lifelong friend.[10] He boarded with a clergyman for a time before rooming on the third floor of what is now Maine Hall in 1823.[11] He joined the Peucinian Society, a group of students with Federalist leanings.[12] In his senior year, Longfellow wrote to his father about his aspirations:

I will not disguise it in the least... the fact is, I most eagerly aspire after future eminence in literature, my whole soul burns most ardently after it, and every earthly thought centres in it... I am almost confident in believing, that if I can ever rise in the world it must be by the exercise of my talents in the wide field of literature.[13]

He pursued his literary goals by submitting poetry and prose to various newspapers and magazines, partly due to encouragement from a professor named Thomas Cogswell Upham.[14] Between January 1824 and his graduation in 1825, he had published nearly 40 minor poems.[15] About 24 of them appeared in the short-lived Boston periodical The United States Literary Gazette.[12] When Longfellow graduated from Bowdoin, he was ranked fourth in the class, and had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.[16] He gave the student commencement address.[14]

European tours and professorships

After graduating in 1825, he was offered a job as professor of modern languages at his alma mater. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that an influential trustee, Benjamin Orr, had been so impressed by Longfellow's translation of Horace that he was hired under the condition that he travel to Europe to study French, Spanish, and Italian.[17] Whatever the motivation, he began his tour of Europe in May 1826 aboard the ship Cadmus.[18] His time abroad would last three years and cost his father $2,604.24.[19] He traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829.[20] While overseas, he learned French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, mostly without formal instruction.[21] In Madrid, he spent time with Washington Irving and was particularly impressed by the author's work ethic.[22] Irving encouraged the young Longfellow to pursue writing.[23] While in Spain, Longfellow was saddened to learn his favorite sister, Elizabeth, had died of tuberculosis at the age of 20 that May while he was abroad.[24]

On August 27, 1829, he wrote to the president of Bowdoin that he was turning down the professorship because he considered the $600 salary "disproportionate to the duties required". The trustees raised his salary to $800 with an additional $100 to serve as the college's librarian, a post which required one hour of work per day.[25] During his years teaching at the college, he wrote textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish;[26] his first published book was in 1833, a translation of the poetry of medieval Spanish poet Jorge Manrique.[27] He also published a travel book, Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea, first published in serial form before a book edition was released in 1835.[26] Shortly after the book's publication, Longfellow attempted to join the literary circle in New York and asked George Pope Morris for an editorial role at one of Morris's publications. Longfellow was considering moving to New York after New York University considered offering him a newly-created professorship of modern languages, though there would be no salary. The professorship was not created and Longfellow agreed to continue teaching at Bowdoin.[28] Nevertheless, he did not enjoy his time at Bowdoin, especially correcting exams and papers. He wrote, "I hate the sight of pen, ink, and paper... I do not believe that I was born for such a lot. I have aimed higher than this".[29]

File:Mary Storer
Mary Storer Potter became Longfellow's first wife in 1831 and died four years later.

On September 14, 1831, Longfellow married Mary Storer Potter, a childhood friend from Portland.[30] The couple settled in Brunswick, though the two were not happy there.[31] Longfellow published several nonfiction and fiction prose pieces inspired by Irving, including "The Indian Summer" and "The Bald Eagle" in 1833.[32]

In December 1834, Longfellow received a letter from Josiah Quincy III, president of Harvard College, offering him the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages position with the stipulation that he spend a year or so abroad.[33] There, he further studied German as well as Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic.[34] In October 1835, during the trip, his wife Mary had a miscarriage about six months into her pregnancy.[35] She did not recover and died after several weeks of illness at the age of 22 on November 29, 1835. Longfellow had her body embalmed immediately and placed into a lead coffin inside an oak coffin which was then shipped to Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston.[36] He was deeply saddened by her death, writing "One thought occupies me night and day... She is dead—She is dead! All day I am weary and sad".[37] Three years later, he was inspired to write the poem "Footsteps of Angels" about her. Several years later, he wrote the poem "Mezzo Cammin" to express his sorrow over her death.[38]

When he returned to the United States in 1836, Longfellow took up the professorship at Harvard. He was required to live in Cambridge to be close to the campus and rented rooms at the Craggie House in the spring of 1837,[39] now preserved as the Longfellow National Historic Site. The home, built in 1759, had once been the headquarters of George Washington during the Siege of Boston beginning in July 1775.[40] Previous boarders also included Jared Sparks, Edward Everett, and Joseph Emerson Worcester.[41] Longfellow began publishing his poetry, including the collection Voices of the Night in 1839.[42] The bulk of Voices of the Night, Longfellow's debut book of poetry, was translations though he also included nine original poems and seven poems he had written as a teenager.[43] Ballads and Other Poems was published shortly thereafter in 1841[44] and included "The Village Blacksmith" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus", which were instantly popular.[45] Longfellow also became part of the local social scene, creating a group of friends who called themselves the Five of Clubs. Members included Cornelius Conway Felton, George Stillman Hillard, and Charles Sumner, the latter of whom would become Longfellow's closest friend over the next 30 years.[46] As a professor, Longfellow was well-liked, though he disliked being "constantly a playmate for boys" rather than "stretching out and grappling with men's minds."[47]

Courtship of Frances Appleton

File:Eastman Johnson portrait of
Longfellow in 1846, drawing by Eastman Johnson

Longfellow began courting Frances "Fanny" Appleton, the daughter of a wealthy Boston industrialist, Nathan Appleton[48] and sister of Thomas Gold Appleton. At first, she was not interested but Longfellow was determined. In July 1839, he wrote to a friend: "[V]ictory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion".[49] His friend George Stillman Hillard encouraged Longfellow in the pursuit: "I delight to see you keeping up so stout a heart for the resolve to conquer is half the battle in love as well as war".[50] During the courtship, Longfellow frequently walked from Cambridge to the Appleton home in Beacon Hill in Boston by crossing the Boston Bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1906 by a new bridge which was later renamed the Longfellow Bridge.

During his courtship, Longfellow continued writing and, in late 1839, published Hyperion, a book in prose inspired by his trips abroad[49] and his unsuccessful courtship of Fanny Appleton.[51] Amidst this, Longfellow fell into "periods of neurotic depression with moments of panic" and took a six-month leave of absence from Harvard to attend a health spa at Marienberg in Germany.[51] After returning, Longfellow published a play in 1836, The Spanish Student, reflecting his memories from his time in Spain in the 1820s.[52] There was some confusion over its original manuscript. After being printed in Graham's Magazine, its editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold saved the manuscript from the trash. Longfellow was surprised to hear that it had been saved, unusual for a printing office, and asked to borrow it so that he could revise it, forgetting to return it to Griswold. The often vindictive Griswold wrote an angry letter in response.[53]

A small collection, Poems on Slavery, was published in 1842 as Longfellow's first public support of abolitionism. However, as Longfellow himself wrote, the poems were "so mild that even a Slaveholder might read them without losing his appetite for breakfast".[54] A critic for The Dial agreed, calling it "the thinnest of all Mr. Longfellow's thin books; spirited and polished like its forerunners; but the topic would warrant a deeper tone".[55] The New England Anti-Slavery Association, however, was satisfied with the collection enough to reprint it for further distribution.[56]

On May 10, 1843, after seven years, Longfellow received a letter from Fanny Appleton agreeing to marry him and, too restless to take a carriage, walked 90 minutes to meet her at her house.[57] They were married shortly thereafter. Nathan Appleton bought the Craigie House as a wedding present to the pair. Longfellow would live there for the remainder of his life.[58] His love for Fanny is evident in the following lines from Longfellow's only love poem, the sonnet "The Evening Star",[59] which he wrote in October 1845: "O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus! My morning and my evening star of love!" He once attended a ball without her and noted, "The lights seemed dimmer, the music sadder, the flowers fewer, and the women less fair."[60]

He and Fanny had six children: Charles Appleton (1844–1893), Ernest Wadsworth (1845–1921), Fanny (1847–1848), Alice Mary (1850–1928), Edith (1853–1915), and Anne Allegra (1855–1934). Their second-youngest daughter, Edith, married Richard Henry Dana III, son of the popular writer Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of Two Years Before the Mast.[61] When the younger Fanny was born on April 7, 1847, Dr. Nathan Cooley Keep administered ether as the first obstetric anesthetic in the United States to Fanny Longfellow.[62] A few months later, on November 1, 1847, the poem "Evangeline" was published for the first time.[62] His literary income was increasing considerably: in 1840, he had made $219 from his work but the year 1850 brought him $1,900.[63]

On June 14, 1853, Longfellow held a farewell dinner party at his Cambridge home for his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was preparing to move overseas.[64] Shortly thereafter in 1854, Longfellow retired from Harvard,[65] devoting himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Laws from Harvard in 1859.[66]

Death of Frances

On July 9, 1861,[67] a hot day, Fanny was putting locks of her children's hair into an envelope and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax while Longfellow took a nap.[68] Her dress suddenly caught fire, though it is unclear exactly how;[69] it may have been burning wax or a lighted candle which fell on her dress.[70] Longfellow, awakened from his nap, rushed to help her and threw a rug over her, though it was too small. He stifled the flames with his body as best he could, but she was already badly burned.[69] Over a half a century later, Longfellow's youngest daughter Annie explained the story differently, claiming that there was no candle or wax but that the fire started from a self-lighting match that had fallen on the floor.[61] In both versions of the story, however, Fanny was taken to her room to recover and a doctor was called. She was in and out of consciousness throughout the night and was administered ether. The next morning, July 10, 1861, she died shortly after 10 o'clock after requesting a cup of coffee.[71] Longfellow, in trying to save her, had burned himself badly enough that he was unable to attend her funeral.[72] His facial injuries caused him to stop shaving, thereafter wearing the beard which has become his trademark.[71]

Devastated by her death, he never fully recovered and occasionally resorted to laudanum and ether to deal with it.[73] He worried he would go insane and begged "not to be sent to an asylum" and noted that he was "inwardly bleeding to death".[74] He expressed his grief in the sonnet "The Cross of Snow" (1879), which he wrote eighteen years later to commemorate her death:[38]

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.[74]

Later life and death

Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. To aid him in perfecting the translation and reviewing proofs, he invited friends to weekly meetings every Wednesday starting in 1864.[75] The "Dante Club", as it was called, regularly included William Dean Howells, James Russell Lowell, Charles Eliot Norton and other occasional guests.[76] The full three-volume translation was published in the spring of 1867, though Longfellow would continue to revise it,[77] and it went through four printings in its first year.[78] By 1868, Longfellow's annual income was over $48,000.[79]

During the 1860s, Longfellow supported abolitionism and especially hoped for reconciliation between the northern and southern states after the American Civil War. He wrote in his journal in 1878: "I have only one desire; and that is for harmony, and a frank and honest understanding between North and South".[80] Longfellow, despite his aversion to public speaking, accepted an offer from Joshua Chamberlain to speak at his fiftieth reunion at Bowdoin College; he read the poem "Morituri Salutamus" so quietly that few could hear him.[81] The next year, 1876, he declined an offer to be nominated for the Board of Overseers at Harvard "for reasons very conclusive to my own mind".[82]

On August 22, 1879, a female admirer traveled to Longfellow's house in Cambridge and, unaware to whom she was speaking, asked Longfellow: "Is this the house where Longfellow was born?" Longfellow told her it was not. The visitor then asked if he had died here. "Not yet", he replied.[83] In March 1882, Longfellow went to bed with severe stomach pain. He endured the pain for several days with the help of opium before he died surrounded by family on Friday, March 24, 1882.[84] He had been suffering from peritonitis.[85] At the time of his death, his estate was worth an estimated $356,320.[79] He is buried with both of his wives at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His last few years were spent translating the poetry of Michelangelo; though Longfellow never considered it complete enough to be published during his lifetime, a posthumous edition was collected in 1883. Scholars generally regard the work as autobiographical, reflecting the translator as an aging artist facing his impending death.[86]

Writing

Style

File:Henry W Longfellow with
Longfellow circa 1850s

Though much of his work is categorized as lyric poetry, Longfellow experimented with many forms, including hexameter and free verse.[87] His published poetry shows great versatility, using anapestic and trochaic forms, blank verse, heroic couplets, ballads and sonnets.[88] Typically, Longfellow would carefully consider the subject of his poetic ideas for a long time before deciding on the right metrical form for it.[89] Much of his work is recognized for its melody-like musicality.[90] As he says, "what a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen".[91]

As a very private man, Longfellow did not believe in adding autobiographical elements to his poetry. Two exceptions are dedicated to the death of members of his family. "Resignation", written as a response to the death of his daughter Fanny in 1848, does not use first-person pronouns and is instead a generalized poem of mourning.[92] The death of his second wife Frances, as biographer Charles Calhoun wrote, deeply affected Longfellow personally but "seemed not to touch his poetry, at least directly".[93] His memorial poem to her, a sonnet called "The Cross of Snow", was not published in his lifetime.[92]

Longfellow often used didacticism in his poetry, though he focused on it less in his later years.[94] Much of his poetry imparts cultural and moral values, particularly focused on promoting life as being more than material pursuits.[95] Longfellow often used allegory in his work. In "Nature", for example, death is depicted as bedtime for a cranky child.[96] Many of the metaphors he used in his poetry as well as subject matter came from legends, mythology, and literature.[97] He was inspired, for example, by Norse mythology for "The Skeleton in Armor" and by Finnish legends for The Song of Hiawatha.[98] In fact, Longfellow rarely wrote on current subjects and seemed detached from contemporary American concerns.[99] Even so, Longfellow, like many during this period, called for the development of high quality American literature. In Kavanagh, a character says:

We want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers... We want a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country... We want a national drama in which scope shall be given to our gigantic ideas and to the unparalleled activity of our people... In a word, we want a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies.[100]

He was also important as a translator; his translation of Dante became a required possession for those who wanted to be a part of high culture.[101] He also encouraged and supported other translators. In 1845, he published The Poets and Poetry of Europe, an 800-page compilation of translations made by other writers, including many by his friend and colleague Cornelius Conway Felton. Longfellow intended the anthology "to bring together, into a compact and convenient form, as large an amount as possible of those English translations which are scattered through many volumes, and are not accessible to the general reader".[102] In honor of Longfellow's role with translations, Harvard established the Longfellow Institute in 1994, dedicated to literature written in the United States in languages other than English.[103]

In 1874, Longfellow oversaw a 31-volume anthology called Poems of Places, which collected poems representing several geographical locations, including European, Asian, and Arabian countries.[104] Emerson was disappointed and reportedly told Longfellow: "The world is expecting better things of you than this... You are wasting time that should be bestowed upon original production".[105] In preparing the volume, Longfellow hired Katherine Sherwood Bonner as an amanuensis.[106]

Critical response

Charles Sumner]]

Longfellow's early collections, Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems, made him instantly popular. The New-Yorker called him "one of the very few in our time who has successfully aimed in putting poetry to its best and sweetest uses".[45] The Southern Literary Messenger immediately put Longfellow "among the first of our American poets".[45] Poet John Greenleaf Whittier said that Longfellow's poetry illustrated "the careful moulding by which art attains the graceful ease and chaste simplicity of nature".[107] Longfellow's friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote of him as "our chief singer" and one who "wins and warms... kindles, softens, cheers [and] calms the wildest woe and stays the bitterest tears!"[108]

The rapidity with which American readers embraced Longfellow was unparalleled in publishing history in the United States;[109] by 1874, he was earning $3,000 per poem.[110] His popularity spread throughout Europe as well and his poetry was translated during his lifetime into Italian, French, German, and other languages.[111] As scholar Bliss Perry later wrote, Longfellow was so highly praised that criticizing him was a criminal act like "carrying a rifle into a national park".[112] In the last two decades of his life, he often received requests for autographs from strangers, which he always sent.[113] John Greenleaf Whittier suggested it was this massive correspondence that led to Longfellow's death, writing: "My friend Longfellow was driven to death by these incessant demands".[114]

Contemporary writer Edgar Allan Poe wrote to Longfellow in May 1841 of his "fervent admiration which [your] genius has inspired in me" and later called him "unquestionably the best poet in America".[115] However, after Poe's reputation as a critic increased, he publicly accused Longfellow of plagiarism in what has been since termed by Poe biographers as "The Longfellow War".[116] His assessment was that Longfellow was "a determined imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people",[115] specifically Alfred, Lord Tennyson.[117] His accusations may have been a publicity stunt to boost readership of the Broadway Journal, for which he was the editor at the time.[118] Longfellow did not respond publicly, but, after Poe's death, he wrote: "The harshness of his criticisms I have never attributed to anything but the irritation of a sensitive nature chafed by some indefinite sense of wrong".[119]

Margaret Fuller judged him "artificial and imitative" and lacking force.[120] Poet Walt Whitman also considered Longfellow an imitator of European forms, though he praised his ability to reach a popular audience as "the expressor of common themes – of the little songs of the masses".[121] Lewis Mumford said that Longfellow could be completely removed from the history of literature without much effect.[99] Towards the end of his life, contemporaries considered him more of a children's poet[122] as many of his readers were children.[123] A contemporary reviewer noted in 1848 that Longfellow was creating a "Goody two-shoes kind of literature... slipshod, sentimental stories told in the style of the nursery, beginning in nothing and ending in nothing".[124] A more modern critic said, "Who, except wretched schoolchildren, now reads Longfellow?"[99] A London critic in the London Quarterly Review, however, condemned all American poetry, saying, "with two or three exceptions, there is not a poet of mark in the whole union" but singled out Longfellow as one of those exceptions.[125] As an editor of the Boston Evening Transcript wrote in 1846, "Whatever the miserable envy of trashy criticism may write against Longfellow, one thing is most certain, no American poet is more read".[126]

Legacy

Chairman Dana Gioia and Katherine C. Tobin, member of the USPS Board of Governors, unveil the new U.S. postage stamp in honor of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 2007.]]

Longfellow was the most popular poet of his day[127] and is generally regarded as the most distinguished poet the country had produced. As a friend once wrote to him, "no other poet was so fully recognized in his lifetime".[128] Many of his works helped shape the American character and its legacy, particularly with the poem "Paul Revere's Ride".[112] He was such an admired figure in the United States during his life that his 70th birthday in 1877 took on the air of a national holiday, with parades, speeches, and the reading of his poetry.

[[file:|thumb|left|The US Post Office issued its first H. W. Longfellow commemorative stamp in 1940]]

He had become one of the first American celebrities and was also popular in Europe. It was reported that 10,000 copies of The Courtship of Miles Standish sold in London in a single day.[129] Children adored him and, when the "spreading chestnut-tree" mentioned in the poem "The Village Blacksmith" was cut down, the children of Cambridge had the tree converted into an armchair which they presented to the poet.[130] In 1884, Longfellow became the first non-British writer for whom a commemorative sculpted bust was placed in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey in London; he remains the only American poet represented with a bust.[131] Over the years, Longfellow's personality has become part of his reputation. He has been presented as a gentle, placid, poetic soul: an image perpetuated by his brother Samuel Longfellow, who wrote an early biography which specifically emphasized these points.[132] As James Russell Lowell said, Longfellow had an "absolute sweetness, simplicity, and modesty".[119] At Longfellow's funeral, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson called him "a sweet and beautiful soul".[133] In reality, Longfellow's life was much more difficult than was assumed. He suffered from neuralgia, which caused him constant pain, and he also had poor eyesight. He wrote to friend Charles Sumner: "I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart".[134] He had difficulty coping with the death of his second wife.[73] Longfellow was very quiet, reserved, and private; in later years, he was known for being unsocial and avoided leaving home.[135] Over time, Longfellow's popularity rapidly declined, beginning shortly after his death and into the 20th century as academics began to appreciate poets like Walt Whitman, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Robert Frost.[136] In the 20th century, literary scholar Kermit Vanderbilt noted, "Increasingly rare is the scholar who braves ridicule to justify the art of Longfellow's popular rhymings."[137] More recently, he was honored in March 2007 when the United States Postal Service made a stamp commemorating him. A number of schools are named after him in various states as well. Neil Diamond's 1974 hit song, "Longfellow Serenade", is a reference to the poet.[138] He is a protagonist in Matthew Pearl's murder mystery The Dante Club (2003).[139]

List of works

  • Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (Travelogue) (1835)
  • Hyperion, a Romance (1839)
  • The Spanish Student. A Play in Three Acts (1843)[52]
  • Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (epic poem) (1847)
  • "Kavanagh: A Tale" (1849)
  • "The Golden Legend" (poem) (1851)
  • The Song of Hiawatha (epic poem) (1855)
  • The Children's Hour (1860)
  • Household Poems (1865)
  • The New England Tragedies (1868)
  • The Divine Tragedy (1871)
  • Christus: A Mystery (1872)
  • "Aftermath" (poem) (1873)
  • The Reaper and the Flowers (1839)
  • The Bell of Atri (from The Sicilian's Tale) (1863–72)
Poetry collections
  • Voices of the Night (1839)
  • Ballads and Other Poems (1841)
  • Poems on Slavery (1842)
  • The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845)
  • Birds of Passage (1845)
  • The Seaside and the Fireside (1850)
  • The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems (1858)
  • Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863)
  • Flower-de-Luce (1867)
  • Three Books of Song (1872)[104]
  • The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems (1875)[104]
  • Kéramos and Other Poems (1878)[104]
  • Ultima Thule (1880)[104]
  • In the Harbor (1882)[104]
  • Michel Angelo: A Fragment (incomplete; published posthumously)[104]
Translations
  • Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique (Translation from Spanish) (1833)
  • Dante's Divine Comedy (Translation) (1867)
Anthologies
  • Poets and Poetry of Europe (Translations) (1844)[52]
  • The Waif (1845)[52]
  • Poems of Places (1874)[104]

References

  1. Calhoun, 5
  2. Sullivan, 180
  3. Wadsworth-Longfellow Genealogy at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - A Maine Historical Society Web Site
  4. Arvin, 7
  5. Thompson, 16
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Arvin, 11
  7. Sullivan, 181
  8. Calhoun, 24
  9. Calhoun, 16
  10. McFarland, 58-59
  11. Calhoun, 33
  12. 12.0 12.1 Calhoun, 37
  13. Arvin, 13
  14. 14.0 14.1 Sullivan, 184
  15. Arvin, 14
  16. Who Belongs To Phi Beta Kappa, ’Phi Beta Kappa website’’, accessed Oct 4, 2009
  17. Calhoun, 40
  18. Arvin, 22
  19. Calhoun, 42
  20. Arvin, 26
  21. Sullivan, 186
  22. Jones, Brian Jay. Washington Irving: An American Original. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2008: 242. ISBN 978-1-55970836-4
  23. Burstein, Andrew. The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving. New York: Basic Books, 2007: 195. ISBN 9780465008537.
  24. Calhoun, 67
  25. Calhoun, 69
  26. 26.0 26.1 Williams, 66
  27. Irmscher, 225
  28. Thompson, 199
  29. Sullivan, 187
  30. Calhoun, 90
  31. Arvin, 28
  32. Williams, 108
  33. Arvin, 30
  34. Sullivan, 189
  35. Calhoun, 114–115
  36. Calhoun, 118
  37. Sullivan, 190
  38. 38.0 38.1 Arvin, 305
  39. Calhoun, 124
  40. Calhoun, 124–125
  41. Brooks, 153
  42. Calhoun, 137
  43. Gioia, 75
  44. Williams, 75
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 Calhoun, 138
  46. Calhoun, 135
  47. Sullivan, 191
  48. Calhoun, 119
  49. 49.0 49.1 McFarland, 59
  50. Thompson, 258
  51. 51.0 51.1 Sullivan, 192
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 52.3 Calhoun, 179
  53. Bayless, 130–131
  54. Irmscher, 60
  55. Thompson, 332
  56. Wagenknecht, 56
  57. Calhoun, 164–165
  58. Arvin, 51
  59. Arvin, 304
  60. Sullivan, 193
  61. 61.0 61.1 Calhoun, 217
  62. 62.0 62.1 Calhoun, 189
  63. Williams, 19
  64. McFarland, 198
  65. Brooks, 453
  66. Calhoun, 198
  67. Miller, 91
  68. McFarland, 243
  69. 69.0 69.1 Calhoun, 215
  70. Arvin, 138
  71. 71.0 71.1 McFarland, 244
  72. Arvin, 139
  73. 73.0 73.1 Calhoun, 218
  74. 74.0 74.1 Sullivan, 197
  75. Arvin, 140
  76. Calhoun, 236
  77. Irmscher, 263
  78. Irmscher, 268
  79. 79.0 79.1 Williams, 100
  80. Irmscher, 205
  81. Calhoun, 240–241
  82. Wagenknecht, 40
  83. Irmscher, 7
  84. Calhoun, 248
  85. Wagenknecht, 11
  86. Irmscher, 137–139
  87. Arvin, 182
  88. Williams, 130
  89. Williams, 156
  90. Brooks, 174
  91. Wagenknecht, 145
  92. 92.0 92.1 Irmscher, 46
  93. Calhoun, 229
  94. Arvin, 183
  95. Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007: 630–631. ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7
  96. Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. University of California Press, 1999: 52. ISBN 0520226879.
  97. Arvin, 186
  98. Brooks, 175–176
  99. 99.0 99.1 99.2 Arvin, 321
  100. Lewis, R. W. B. The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1955: 79.
  101. Calhoun, 237
  102. Irmscher, 231
  103. Irmscher, 21
  104. 104.0 104.1 104.2 104.3 104.4 104.5 104.6 104.7 Calhoun, 242
  105. Irmscher, 200
  106. Wagenknecht, 185
  107. Wagenknecht, Edward. John Greenleaf Whittier: A Portrait in Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967: 113.
  108. Sullivan, 177
  109. Calhoun, 139
  110. Levine, Miriam. A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Books, 1984: 127. ISBN 0-918222-51-6
  111. Irmscher, 218
  112. 112.0 112.1 Sullivan, 178
  113. Calhoun, 245
  114. Irmscher, 36
  115. 115.0 115.1 Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 171. ISBN 0815410387.
  116. Silverman, 250
  117. Silverman, 251
  118. Calhoun, 160
  119. 119.0 119.1 Wagenknecht, 144
  120. McFarland, 170
  121. Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Vintage Books, 1995: 353. ISBN 0679767096.
  122. Calhoun, 246
  123. Brooks, 455
  124. Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977: 235. ISBN 0-394-40532-3
  125. Silverman, 199
  126. Irmscher, 20
  127. Bayless, 40
  128. Gioia, 65
  129. Brooks, 523
  130. Sullivan, 198
  131. Williams, 21
  132. Williams, 18
  133. Williams, 197
  134. Wagenknecht, 16–17
  135. Wagenknecht, 34
  136. Williams, 23
  137. Gioia, 68
  138. Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 150.
  139. Calhoun, 258

Sources

  • Arvin, Newton. Longfellow: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963.
  • Bayless, Joy. Rufus Wilmot Griswold: Poe's Literary Executor. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943.
  • Brooks, Van Wyck. The Flowering of New England. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1952.
  • Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. ISBN 0807070262.
  • Gioia, Dana. "Longfellow in the Aftermath of Modernism". The Columbia History of American Poetry, edited by Jay Parini. Columbia University Press, 1993. ISBN 0231078366
  • Irmscher, Christoph. Longfellow Redux. University of Illinois, 2006. ISBN 9780252030635.
  • McFarland, Philip. Hawthorne in Concord. New York: Grove Press, 2004. ISBN 0802117767.
  • Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. ISBN 0060923318.
  • Thompson, Lawrance. Young Longfellow (1807–1843). New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938.
  • Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Williams, Cecil B. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964.
  • Sullivan, Wilson. New England Men of Letters. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972. ISBN 0027886808.

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Persondata
NAME Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
ALTERNATIVE NAMES
SHORT DESCRIPTION American poet
DATE OF BIRTH February 27, 1807
PLACE OF BIRTH Portland, Maine, United States
DATE OF DEATH March 24, 1882
PLACE OF DEATH Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States








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