Friday, August 13, 2010

Great American Literature- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a regular guy who wrote great poetry that appealed to the average people like himself, but also to a refined and highly educated audience. He was a child prodigy and published his first poem at the young age of thirteen. He was privately educated and later attended Bowdoin College, where he was told that he should teach if he was able to gain cultural finesse. So, he traveled to Europe where he learned French, German, and Italian. He then taught at Bowdoin and in later years, at Harvard. Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems were Longfellow's first main poetry collections. Longfellow's poetry became widely recognized and his poems were quoted not only in the states, but overseas too. Longfellow's most well-known poem (though many may not know that he is the author) is Paul Revere's Ride.

This is a small excerpt from the poem. To read it in its entirety go here.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

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