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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Overview
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride
Paul Revere's Ride (poem)
"Paul Revere's Ride" is a poem by an American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that commemorates the actions of American patriot Paul Revere on April 18, 1775.-Overview:...

", The Song of Hiawatha
The Song of Hiawatha
The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero and loosely based on legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe and other Native American peoples contained in Algic Researches and additional writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft...

, and Evangeline
Evangeline
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

and was one of the five Fireside Poets
Fireside Poets
The Fireside Poets were a group of 19th-century American poets from New England.-Overview:...

.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College , founded in 1794, is an elite private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick, Maine. As of 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bowdoin 6th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. At times, it was ranked as high as 4th in the country. It is...

. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841).
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Quotations

I heard the trailing garments of the NightSweep through her marble halls!I saw her sable skirts all fringed with lightFrom the celestial walls!

wikisource:Hymn to the Night|Hymn to the Night, st. 1 (1839)

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.

wikisource:The Reaper and the Flowers|The Reaper and the Flowers, st. 1 (1839)

Thus, seamed with many scarsBursting these prison bars,Up to its native starsMy soul ascended!There from the flowing bowlDeep drinks the warrior's soul,Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!—Thus the tale ended.

wikisource:The Skeleton in Armor|The Skeleton in Armor, st. 20 (1841)

No one is so accursed by fate,No one so utterly desolate,But some heart, though unknown,Responds unto his own.

wikisource:Endymion|Endymion, st. 8 (1842)

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which callsThe burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;It consecrates each grave within its walls,And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

wikisource:God's-Acre|God's-Acre, st. 1 (1842)

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

wikisource:Excelsior|Excelsior, st. 1 (1842)
Encyclopedia
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride
Paul Revere's Ride (poem)
"Paul Revere's Ride" is a poem by an American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that commemorates the actions of American patriot Paul Revere on April 18, 1775.-Overview:...

", The Song of Hiawatha
The Song of Hiawatha
The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero and loosely based on legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe and other Native American peoples contained in Algic Researches and additional writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft...

, and Evangeline
Evangeline
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

and was one of the five Fireside Poets
Fireside Poets
The Fireside Poets were a group of 19th-century American poets from New England.-Overview:...

.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College , founded in 1794, is an elite private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick, Maine. As of 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bowdoin 6th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. At times, it was ranked as high as 4th in the country. It is...

. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

. 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
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

, in a former headquarters of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

. 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
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

 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.

Early life and education



Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, to Stephen Longfellow
Stephen Longfellow
Stephen Longfellow was a U.S. Representative from Maine.-Biography:Born in Gorham, Maine to Stephen Longfellow and Patience Young Longfellow , Longfellow graduated from Harvard University in 1798. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1801 and commenced practice in Portland, Maine...

 and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, then a district of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, and he grew up in what is now known as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Wadsworth-Longfellow House
The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is an historic house and museum in Portland, Maine, United States. It is located at 489 Congress Street and is operated by the Maine Historical Society. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, and administratively added to the National Register of...

. His father was a lawyer, and his maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth
Peleg Wadsworth
Peleg Wadsworth was an American officer during the American Revolutionary War and a Congressman from Massachusetts representing the District of Maine. He was also grandfather of noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.Wadsworth was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, to Peleg and Susanna ...

, was a general in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 and a Member of Congress
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. He was named after his mother's brother Henry Wadsworth, a Navy lieutenant who died only three years earlier at the Battle of Tripoli
Battle of Tripoli Harbor
The Second Battle of Tripoli Harbor, was a naval action during a naval blockade which took place in Tripoli Harbor in 1804. The battle is part of the First Barbary War between forces of the United States and the forces of Tripoli.-Background:...

. Young Longfellow was the second of eight children; his siblings were Stephen (1805), Elizabeth (1808), Anne (1810), Alexander (1814), Mary (1816), Ellen (1818), and Samuel
Samuel Longfellow
Samuel Longfellow was an American clergyman and hymn writer.-Biography:Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine to Stephen and Zilpah Longfellow; he is the younger brother of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

 (1819).

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was enrolled in a dame school
Dame school
A Dame School was an early form of a private elementary school in English-speaking countries. They were usually taught by women and were often located in the home of the teacher.- Britain :...

 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
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. His mother encouraged his enthusiasm for reading and learning, introducing him to Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and...

and Don Quixote. 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. 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
Hiram, Maine
Hiram is a town in Oxford County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,423 at the 2000 census. It includes the villages of Hiram, East Hiram, South Hiram and Durgintown...

.

In the fall of 1822, the 15-year old Longfellow enrolled at Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College , founded in 1794, is an elite private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick, Maine. As of 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bowdoin 6th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. At times, it was ranked as high as 4th in the country. It is...

 in Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area. Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, , and the...

, alongside his brother Stephen. His grandfather was a founder of the college and his father was a trustee. There, Longfellow met Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

, who would later become his lifelong friend. He boarded with a clergyman for a time before rooming on the third floor of what is now Maine Hall in 1823. He joined the Peucinian Society, a group of students with Federalist
Federalist Party (United States)
The Federalist Party was the first American political party, from the early 1790s to 1816, the era of the First Party System, with remnants lasting into the 1820s. The Federalists controlled the federal government until 1801...

 leanings. 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.


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. Between January 1824 and his graduation in 1825, he had published nearly 40 minor poems. About 24 of them appeared in the short-lived Boston periodical The United States Literary Gazette. When Longfellow graduated from Bowdoin, he was ranked fourth in the class, and had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He gave the student commencement address.

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
Benjamin Orr (Massachusetts politician)
Benjamin Orr was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts.Orr was born in Bedford, New Hampshire on December 1, 1772. He was self-educated and apprenticed as a carpenter. He attended Fryeburg Academy, taught school at Concord and New Milford, New Hampshire; and...

, had been so impressed by Longfellow's translation of Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 that he was hired under the condition that he travel to Europe to study French, Spanish, and Italian. Whatever the motivation, he began his tour of Europe in May 1826 aboard the ship Cadmus. His time abroad would last three years and cost his father $2,604.24. He traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829. While overseas, he learned French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, mostly without formal instruction. In Madrid, he spent time with Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 and was particularly impressed by the author's work ethic. Irving encouraged the young Longfellow to pursue writing. While in Spain, Longfellow was saddened to learn his favorite sister, Elizabeth, had died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 at the age of 20 that May while he was abroad.

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. During his years teaching at the college, he translated textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish; his first published book was in 1833, a translation of the poetry of medieval Spanish poet Jorge Manrique
Jorge Manrique
Jorge Manrique was a major Spanish poet, whose main work, the Coplas a la muerte de su padre , is still read today...

. He also published a travel book, Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea
Outre-Mer
Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea is a prose collection which was the first major work by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The term "outre-mer" is French for "overseas".-Overview:...

, first published in serial form before a book edition was released in 1835. Shortly after the book's publication, Longfellow attempted to join the literary circle in New York and asked George Pope Morris
George Pope Morris
George Pope Morris was an American editor, poet, and songwriter.-Life and work:With Nathaniel Parker Willis, he co-founded the daily New York Evening Mirror by merging his fledgling weekly New York Mirror with Willis's American Monthly in August 1831...

 for an editorial role at one of Morris's publications. Longfellow considered moving to New York after New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

 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. 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".


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

In December 1834, Longfellow received a letter from Josiah Quincy III
Josiah Quincy III
Josiah Quincy III was a U.S. educator and political figure. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives , Mayor of Boston , and President of Harvard University...

, president of Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

, offering him the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages position with the stipulation that he spend a year or so abroad. There, he further studied German as well as Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic. In October 1835, during the trip, his wife Mary had a miscarriage about six months into her pregnancy. 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
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 as "America's first garden cemetery", or the first "rural cemetery", with classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain...

 near Boston. 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". Three years later, he was inspired to write the poem "Footsteps of Angels" about her. Several years later, he wrote the poem "Mezzo Cammin" expressed his personal struggles in his middle years.

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 Craigie House in the spring of 1837, now preserved as the Longfellow House–Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site. The home, built in 1759, had once been the headquarters of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 during the Siege of Boston
Siege of Boston
The Siege of Boston was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War, in which New England militiamen—who later became part of the Continental Army—surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within...

 beginning in July 1775. Previous boarders also included Jared Sparks
Jared Sparks
Jared Sparks was an American historian, educator, and Unitarian minister. He served as President of Harvard University from 1849 to 1853.-Biography:...

, Edward Everett
Edward Everett
Edward Everett was an American politician and educator from Massachusetts. Everett, a Whig, served as U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and United States Secretary of State...

, and Joseph Emerson Worcester
Joseph Emerson Worcester
Joseph Emerson Worcester was an American lexicographer and chief competitor of Webster's Dictionary in the mid-nineteenth-century. Their rivalry became known as the "dictionary wars". Worcester's dictionaries focused on traditional pronunciation and spelling, unlike Noah Webster's attempts to...

. Longfellow began publishing his poetry, including the collection Voices of the Night in 1839. 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. Ballads and Other Poems was published shortly thereafter in 1841 and included "The Village Blacksmith
The Village Blacksmith
"The Village Blacksmith" is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in 1841. The poem describes a local blacksmith and his daily life. The blacksmith serves as a role model who balances his job with the role he plays with his family and community...

" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus
The Wreck of the Hesperus
"The Wreck of the Hesperus" is a dramatic poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in Ballads and Other Poems in 1842.-Overview:...

", which were instantly popular. 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
Cornelius Conway Felton
Cornelius Conway Felton was an American educator. He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as professor of Greek literature and president of Harvard University....

, George Stillman Hillard
George Stillman Hillard
George Stillman Hillard was an American lawyer and author. Besides developing his Boston legal practice , he served in the Massachusetts legislature, edited several Boston journals, and wrote on literature, politics and travel.-Biography:Hillard was born at Machias, Maine on September 22, 1808...

, and Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

, the latter of whom would become Longfellow's closest friend over the next 30 years. 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."

Courtship of Frances Appleton



Longfellow began courting Frances "Fanny" Appleton, the daughter of a wealthy Boston industrialist, Nathan Appleton
Nathan Appleton
Nathan Appleton was an American merchant and politician.- Biography :Appleton was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the son of Isaac Appleton and his wife Mary Adams. Appleton's father was a church deacon, and Nathan was brought up in "strictest form of Calvinistic Congregationalism." He was...

 and sister of Thomas Gold Appleton
Thomas Gold Appleton
Thomas Gold Appleton , son of merchant Nathan Appleton, was an American writer, an artist, and a patron of the fine arts...

. 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". 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". During the courtship, Longfellow frequently walked from Cambridge to the Appleton home in Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, that along with the neighboring Back Bay is home to about 26,000 people. It is a neighborhood of Federal-style rowhouses and is known for its narrow, gas-lit streets and brick sidewalks...

 in Boston by crossing the Boston Bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1906 by a new bridge which was later renamed the Longfellow Bridge
Longfellow Bridge
The Longfellow Bridge, also known to locals as the "Salt-and-Pepper Bridge" or the "Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge" due to the shape of its central towers, carries Route 3 and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Red Line across the Charles River to connect Boston's Beacon Hill...

.

During his courtship, Longfellow continued writing and, in late 1839, published Hyperion
Hyperion (Longfellow)
Hyperion: A Romance is one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's earliest works, published in 1839. It is a prose romance which was published alongside his first volume of poems, Voices of the Night.-Overview:...

, a book in prose inspired by his trips abroad and his unsuccessful courtship of Fanny Appleton. 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. After returning, Longfellow published a play in 1842, The Spanish Student, reflecting his memories from his time in Spain in the 1820s. There was some confusion over its original manuscript. After being printed in Graham's Magazine
Graham's Magazine
Graham's Magazine was a nineteenth century periodical based in Philadelphia established by George Rex Graham. It was alternatively referred to as Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine , Graham's Magazine of Literature and Art , Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature and Art Graham's...

, its editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold
Rufus Wilmot Griswold
Rufus Wilmot Griswold was an American anthologist, editor, poet, and critic. Born in Vermont, Griswold left home when he was 15 years old. He worked as a journalist, editor, and critic in Philadelphia, New York City, and elsewhere. He built up a strong literary reputation, in part due to his 1842...

 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.

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". A critic for The Dial
The Dial
The Dial was an American magazine published intermittently from 1840 to 1929. In its first form, from 1840 to 1844, it served as the chief publication of the Transcendentalists. In the 1880s it was revived as a political magazine...

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". The New England Anti-Slavery Association, however, was satisfied with the collection enough to reprint it for further distribution.

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. 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. His love for Fanny is evident in the following lines from Longfellow's only love poem, the sonnet "The Evening Star", 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."

He and Fanny had six children: Charles Appleton (1844–1893), Ernest Wadsworth
Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow
Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow was an artist in Boston, Massachusetts, and New York. He was the son of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.-Biography:Ernest Longfellow was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and raised at Craigie House...

 (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.
Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
Richard Henry Dana Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, a descendant of an eminent colonial family who gained renown as the author of the American classic, the memoir Two Years Before the Mast...

, author of Two Years Before the Mast
Two Years Before the Mast
Two Years Before the Mast is a book by the American author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., published in 1840, having been written after a two-year sea voyage starting in 1834. A film adaptation under the same name was released in 1946.- Background :...

. When the younger Fanny was born on April 7, 1847, Dr. Nathan Cooley Keep
Nathan Cooley Keep
Dr. Nathan Cooley Keep was a pioneer in the field of dentistry, and the founding Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.-Biography:...

 administered ether
Ether
Ethers are a class of organic compounds that contain an ether group — an oxygen atom connected to two alkyl or aryl groups — of general formula R–O–R'. A typical example is the solvent and anesthetic diethyl ether, commonly referred to simply as "ether"...

 as the first obstetric anesthetic
Anesthesia
Anesthesia, or anaesthesia , traditionally meant the condition of having sensation blocked or temporarily taken away...

 in the United States to Fanny Longfellow. A few months later, on November 1, 1847, the poem "Evangeline
Evangeline
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

" was published for the first time. His literary income was increasing considerably: in 1840, he had made $219 from his work but the year 1850 brought him $1,900.

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. Shortly thereafter in 1854, Longfellow retired from Harvard, devoting himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Laws from Harvard in 1859.

Death of Frances


On July 9, 1861, 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. Her dress suddenly caught fire, though it is unclear exactly how; it may have been burning wax or a lighted candle which fell on her dress. 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. 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. 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
Ether
Ethers are a class of organic compounds that contain an ether group — an oxygen atom connected to two alkyl or aryl groups — of general formula R–O–R'. A typical example is the solvent and anesthetic diethyl ether, commonly referred to simply as "ether"...

. The next morning, July 10, 1861, she died shortly after 10 o'clock after requesting a cup of coffee. Longfellow, in trying to save her, had burned himself badly enough that he was unable to attend her funeral. His facial injuries caused him to stop shaving, thereafter wearing the beard which has become his trademark.

Devastated by her death, he never fully recovered and occasionally resorted to laudanum
Laudanum
Laudanum , also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight ....

 and ether to deal with it. He worried he would go insane and begged "not to be sent to an asylum" and noted that he was "inwardly bleeding to death". He expressed his grief in the sonnet "The Cross of Snow" (1879), which he wrote eighteen years later to commemorate her death:
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.

Later life and death



Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri's
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 Divine Comedy. To aid him in perfecting the translation and reviewing proofs, he invited friends to weekly meetings every Wednesday starting in 1864. The "Dante Club", as it was called, regularly included William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells was an American realist author and literary critic. Nicknamed "The Dean of American Letters", he was particularly known for his tenure as editor of the Atlantic Monthly as well as his own writings, including the Christmas story "Christmas Every Day" and the novel The Rise of...

, James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets...

, Charles Eliot Norton
Charles Eliot Norton
Charles Eliot Norton, was a leading American author, social critic, and professor of art. He was a militant idealist, a progressive social reformer, and a liberal activist whom many of his contemporaries considered the most cultivated man in the United States.-Biography:Norton was born at...

 and other occasional guests. The full three-volume translation was published in the spring of 1867, though Longfellow would continue to revise it, and it went through four printings in its first year. By 1868, Longfellow's annual income was over $48,000. In 1874, Samuel Cutler Ward
Samuel Cutler Ward
Samuel Ward , was a poet, author, and gourmet, and in the years after the Civil War he was widely known as the "King of the Lobby." He combined delicious food, fine wines, and good conversation to create a new type of lobbying in Washington, DC—social lobbying—over which he reigned for...

 helped him sell the poem "The Hanging of the Crane" to the New York Ledger
New York Ledger
New York Ledger was a weekly story paper published in New York City. It was established in 1856 by Robert E. Bonner. Date of last issue was 1898....

for $3,000; it was the highest price ever paid for a poem.

During the 1860s, Longfellow supported abolitionism
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 and especially hoped for reconciliation between the northern and southern states after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. 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". Longfellow, despite his aversion to public speaking, accepted an offer from Joshua Chamberlain
Joshua Chamberlain
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain , born as Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain, was an American college professor from the State of Maine, who volunteered during the American Civil War to join the Union Army...

 to speak at his fiftieth reunion at Bowdoin College; he read the poem "Morituri Salutamus" so quietly that few could hear him. 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".

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. In March 1882, Longfellow went to bed with severe stomach pain. He endured the pain for several days with the help of opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 before he died surrounded by family on Friday, March 24, 1882. He had been suffering from peritonitis
Peritonitis
Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the serous membrane that lines part of the abdominal cavity and viscera. Peritonitis may be localised or generalised, and may result from infection or from a non-infectious process.-Abdominal pain and tenderness:The main manifestations of...

. At the time of his death, his estate was worth an estimated $356,320. He is buried with both of his wives at Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 as "America's first garden cemetery", or the first "rural cemetery", with classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain...

 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His last few years were spent translating the poetry of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

; 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.

Style



Though much of his work is categorized as lyric poetry
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

, Longfellow experimented with many forms, including hexameter
Hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

 and free verse
Free verse
Free verse is a form of poetry that refrains from consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern.Poets have explained that free verse, despite its freedom, is not free. Free Verse displays some elements of form...

. His published poetry shows great versatility, using anapestic and trochaic
Trochee
A trochee or choree, choreus, is a metrical foot used in formal poetry consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one...

 forms, blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, heroic couplet
Heroic couplet
A heroic couplet is a traditional form for English poetry, commonly used for epic and narrative poetry; it refers to poems constructed from a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines. The rhyme is always masculine. Use of the heroic couplet was first pioneered by Geoffrey Chaucer in...

s, ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s and sonnet
Sonnet
A sonnet is one of several forms of poetry that originate in Europe, mainly Provence and Italy. A sonnet commonly has 14 lines. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound"...

s. Typically, Longfellow would carefully consider the subject of his poetic ideas for a long time before deciding on the right metrical form for it. Much of his work is recognized for its melody-like musicality. As he says, "what a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen".

As a very private man, Longfellow did not often add autobiographical elements to his poetry. Two notable 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. 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". His memorial poem to her, a sonnet called "The Cross of Snow", was not published in his lifetime.

Longfellow often used didacticism
Didacticism
Didacticism is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The term has its origin in the Ancient Greek word διδακτικός , "related to education/teaching." Originally, signifying learning in a fascinating and intriguing...

 in his poetry, though he focused on it less in his later years. Much of his poetry imparts cultural and moral values, particularly focused on promoting life as being more than material pursuits. Longfellow also often used allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 in his work. In "Nature", for example, death is depicted as bedtime for a cranky child. Many of the metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

s he used in his poetry as well as subject matter came from legends, mythology, and literature. He was inspired, for example, by Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 for "The Skeleton in Armor
The Skeleton in Armor
The Skeleton in Armor is the name given to a skeleton associated with metal, bark and cloth artifacts which was unearthed in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1832. The skeleton was subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1843...

" and by Finnish legends for The Song of Hiawatha. In fact, Longfellow rarely wrote on current subjects and seemed detached from contemporary American concerns. Even so, Longfellow, like many during this period, called for the development of high quality American literature. In Kavanagh
Kavanagh (novel)
Kavanagh is a novel by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longefellow began writing the story in 1847 and it was published in 1849....

, 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.


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. 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
Cornelius Conway Felton
Cornelius Conway Felton was an American educator. He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as professor of Greek literature and president of Harvard University....

. 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". 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.

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. 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". In preparing the volume, Longfellow hired Katherine Sherwood Bonner
Katherine Sherwood Bonner McDowell
Katherine Sherwood Bonner McDowell was a female author of America's Gilded Age. She is highly significant both as an author and as a feminist icon in an age when it was difficult for women to break away from the accepted norm of husband and household and as such may be considered a romantic...

 as an amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

.

Critical response



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". The Southern Literary Messenger
Southern Literary Messenger
The Southern Literary Messenger was a periodical published in Richmond, Virginia, from 1834 until June 1864. Each issue carried a subtitle of "Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts" or some variation and included poetry, fiction, non-fiction, reviews, and historical notes...

immediately put Longfellow "among the first of our American poets". Poet John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets...

 said that Longfellow's poetry illustrated "the careful moulding by which art attains the graceful ease and chaste simplicity of nature". Longfellow's friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat...

 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!"

The rapidity with which American readers embraced Longfellow was unparalleled in publishing history in the United States; by 1874, he was earning $3,000 per poem. His popularity spread throughout Europe as well and his poetry was translated during his lifetime into Italian, French, German, and other languages. As scholar Bliss Perry
Bliss Perry
Bliss Perry , was a United States editor and scholar.-Biography:Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts and was educated at Williams College, Williamstown, as well as the universities of Berlin and Strassburg .Perry taught at Williams from 1886 until 1893. From then until 1900 he taught at...

 later wrote, Longfellow was so highly praised that criticizing him was a criminal act like "carrying a rifle into a national park". In the last two decades of his life, he often received requests for autographs from strangers, which he always sent. 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".

Contemporary writer Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

 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". However, after Poe's reputation as a critic increased, he publicly accused Longfellow of plagiarism
Plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

 in what has been since termed by Poe biographers as "The Longfellow War". His assessment was that Longfellow was "a determined imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people", specifically Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language....

. His accusations may have been a publicity stunt to boost readership of the Broadway Journal
Broadway Journal
The Broadway Journal was a short-lived New York City-based periodical founded by Charles Frederick Briggs and John Bisco in 1844. A year later, the publication was bought by Edgar Allan Poe, becoming the only magazine he ever owned, though it failed after only a few months under his...

, for which he was the editor at the time. 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".

Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism...

 judged him "artificial and imitative" and lacking force. Poet Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse...

 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". He added, "Longfellow was no revolutionarie: never traveled new paths: of course never broke new paths." Lewis Mumford
Lewis Mumford
Lewis Mumford was an American historian, philosopher of technology, and influential literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer...

 said that Longfellow could be completely removed from the history of literature without much effect. Towards the end of his life, contemporaries considered him more of a children's poet
Children's poetry
Children's poetry is poetry written for, a stupid reson as she says or appropriate for children. This may include folk poetry ; poetry written intentionally for young people Children's poetry is poetry written for, a stupid reson as she says or appropriate for children. This may include folk...

 as many of his readers were children. 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". A more modern critic said, "Who, except wretched schoolchildren, now reads Longfellow?" 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. 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".

Legacy


Longfellow was the most popular poet of his day 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". Many of his works helped shape the American character and its legacy, particularly with the poem "Paul Revere's Ride
Paul Revere's Ride (poem)
"Paul Revere's Ride" is a poem by an American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that commemorates the actions of American patriot Paul Revere on April 18, 1775.-Overview:...

". 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.

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. As James Russell Lowell said, Longfellow had an "absolute sweetness, simplicity, and modesty". At Longfellow's funeral, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 called him "a sweet and beautiful soul". In reality, Longfellow's life was much more difficult than was assumed. He suffered from neuralgia
Neuralgia
Neuralgia is pain in one or more nerves that occurs without stimulation of pain receptor cells. Neuralgia pain is produced by a change in neurological structure or function rather than by the excitation of pain receptors that causes nociceptive pain. Neuralgia falls into two categories: central...

, 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". He had difficulty coping with the death of his second wife. Longfellow was very quiet, reserved, and private; in later years, he was known for being unsocial and avoided leaving home.

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
The Courtship of Miles Standish
The Courtship of Miles Standish is an 1858 narrative poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the early days of Plymouth Colony, the colonial settlement established in America by the Mayflower Pilgrims.-Overview:...

sold in London in a single day. 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. In 1884, Longfellow became the first non-British writer for whom a commemorative sculpted bust was placed in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 in London; he remains the only American poet represented with a bust. More recently, he was honored in March 2007 when the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 made a stamp commemorating him. A number of schools are named after him in various states as well. Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond
Neil Leslie Diamond is an American singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades from the 1960s until the present....

's 1974 hit song, "Longfellow Serenade
Longfellow Serenade
"Longfellow Serenade" is the title of a 1974 song by the American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond. The song was written by Diamond, produced by Tom Catalano and was included on Diamond's album Serenade....

", is a reference to the poet. He is a protagonist in Matthew Pearl's
Matthew Pearl
Matthew Pearl is an American novelist and educator. His novels include The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens and have been published in more than 40 countries.-Biography:...

 murder mystery The Dante Club
The Dante Club
The Dante Club is a mystery novel by Matthew Pearl and his debut work. Set amidst a series of murders in the American Civil War era, it also concerns a club of poets, including such historical figures as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell, who are...

(2003).

Over time, Longfellow's popularity rapidly declined, beginning shortly after his death and into the twentieth century as academics began to appreciate poets like Walt Whitman, Edwin Arlington Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson was an American poet who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.- Biography :Robinson was born in Head Tide, Lincoln County, Maine, but his family moved to Gardiner, Maine, in 1870...

, and Robert Frost
Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and...

. In the twentieth century, literary scholar Kermit Vanderbilt noted, "Increasingly rare is the scholar who braves ridicule to justify the art of Longfellow's popular rhymings." 20th century poet Lewis Putnam Turco concluded "Longfellow was minor and derivative in every way throughout his career... nothing more than a hack imitator of the English Romantics."

List of works



  • Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (Travelogue) (1835)
  • Hyperion, a Romance
    Hyperion (Longfellow)
    Hyperion: A Romance is one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's earliest works, published in 1839. It is a prose romance which was published alongside his first volume of poems, Voices of the Night.-Overview:...

    (1839)
  • The Spanish Student. A Play in Three Acts (1843)
  • Evangeline
    Evangeline
    Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

    : A Tale of Acadie
    (epic poem) (1847)
  • Kavanagh: A Tale (1849)
  • The Golden Legend (poem) (1851)
  • The Song of Hiawatha
    The Song of Hiawatha
    The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero and loosely based on legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe and other Native American peoples contained in Algic Researches and additional writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft...

    (epic poem) (1855)
  • The New England Tragedies (1868)
  • The Divine Tragedy (1871)
  • Christus: A Mystery (1872)
  • Aftermath (poem) (1873)


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)
  • Household Poems (1865)
  • Flower-de-Luce (1867)
  • Three Books of Song (1872)
  • The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems (1875)
  • Kéramos and Other Poems (1878)
  • Ultima Thule (1880)
  • In the Harbor (1882)
  • Michel Angelo: A Fragment (incomplete; published posthumously)

Translations
  • Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique (Translation from Spanish) (1833)
  • Dante's Divine Comedy (Translation) (1867)

Anthologies
  • Poets and Poetry of Europe (Translations) (1844)
  • The Waif (1845)
  • Poems of Places (1874)

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.

External links


Sources
Other