Cover image for Poems and other writings
Title:
Poems and other writings
Author:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882.
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. 2000
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Putnam, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xiv, 854 pages ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781883011857
Format :
Book

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Central Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Central Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Clarence Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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East Aurora Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Orchard Park Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Kenmore Library PS2253 .M33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

No American writer of the nineteenth century was more universally enjoyed and admired than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His works were extraordinary bestsellers for their era, achieving fame both here and abroad. Now, for the first time in over twenty-five years, The Library of America offers a full-scale literary portrait of America's greatest popular poet.

Here are the poems that created an American mythology: Evangeline in the forest primeval, Hiawatha by the shores of Gitche Gumee, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the wreck of the Hesperus, the village blacksmith under the spreading chestnut tree, the strange courtship of Miles Standish, the maiden Priscilla and the hesitant John Alden; verses like "A Psalm of Life" and "The Children's Hour," whose phrases and characters have become part of the culture. Here as well, along with the public antislavery poems, are the sparer, darker lyrics--"The Fire of Drift-Wood," "Mezzo Cammin," "Snow-Flakes," and many others--that show a more austere aspect of Longfellow's poetic gift.

Erudite and fluent in many languages, Longfellow was endlessly fascinated with the byways of history and the curiosities of legend. As a verse storyteller he had no peer, whether in the great book-length narratives such as Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha (both included in full) or the stories collected in Tales of a Wayside Inn (reprinted here in a generous selection). His many poems on literary themes, such as his moving homages to Dante and Chaucer, his verse translations from Lope de Vega, Heinrich Heine, and Michelangelo, and his ambitious verse dramas, notably The New England Tragedies (also complete), are remarkable in their range and ambition.

As a special feature, this volume restores to print Longfellow's novel Kavanagh , a study of small-town life and literary ambition that was praised by Emerson as an important contribution to the development of American fiction. A selection of essays rounds out of the volume and provides testimony of Longfellow's concern with creating an American national literature.


Author Notes

During his lifetime, Longfellow enjoyed a popularity that few poets have ever known. This has made a purely literary assessment of his achievement difficult, since his verse has had an effect on so many levels of American culture and society. Certainly, some of his most popular poems are, when considered merely as artistic compositions, found wanting in serious ways: the confused imagery and sentimentality of "A Psalm of Life" (1839), the excessive didacticism of "Excelsior" (1841), the sentimentality of "The Village Blacksmith" (1839). Yet, when judged in terms of popular culture, these works are probably no worse and, in some respects, much better than their counterparts in our time.

Longfellow was very successful in responding to the need felt by Americans of his time for a literature of their own, a retelling in verse of the stories and legends of these United States, especially New England. His three most popular narrative poems are thoroughly rooted in American soil. "Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie" (1847), an American idyll; "The Song of Hiawatha" (1855), the first genuinely native epic in American poetry; and "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (1858), a Puritan romance of Longfellow's own ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullens. "Paul Revere's Ride," the best known of the "Tales of a Wayside Inn"(1863), is also intensely national. Then, there is a handful of intensely personal, melancholy poems that deal in very successful ways with those themes not commonly thought of as Longfellow's: sorrow, death, frustration, the pathetic drift of humanity's existence. Chief among these are "My Lost Youth" (1855), "Mezzo Cammin" (1842), "The Ropewalk" (1854), "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" (1852), and, most remarkable in its artistic success, "The Cross of Snow," a heartfelt sonnet so personal in its expression of the poet's grief for his dead wife that it remained unpublished until after Longfellow's death. A professor of modern literature at Harvard College, Longfellow did much to educate the general reading public in the literatures of Europe by means of his many anthologies and translations, the most important of which was his masterful rendition in English of Dante's Divine Comedy (1865-67).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"By the shore of Gitchee Gumee,/ By the shining Big-Sea-Water..." Between the Civil War and the Great Depression, Longfellow (1807-1882) was America's best-loved poet. An audience so broad it's now hard to imagine enjoyed his well-told, metrically innovative narrative poems, like The Song of Hiawatha; schoolchildren memorized, and adults enjoyed, his accessible, often sententious lyric verse. Longfellow's vast and various output also included many translations of Dante and other European poets, verse-drama and a collection of shorter narratives, Tales of a Wayside Inn. (In his day job at Harvard, he helped invent the study of comparative literature.) In search of a new audience for Longfellow, editor McClatchy, a poet and critic himself (Ten Commandments; Twenty Questions), has rightly assembled a very generous selection, including all Longfellow's most famous poems, and all his best (they're not the same). Here are Hiawatha, Evangeline, The Courtship of Miles Standish and "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." Here, too, are some surprisingly powerful lyric and meditative poemsÄwell made, deeply felt, and not much like the schoolhouse favorites. Among them are the ambitious, fast-moving "K‚ramos," which follows a potter's wheel around the world; metrical complexities like "The Rope-Walk" and "Snow-Flakes"; and the grief-charged sonnet "The Cross of Snow," about his long-dead wife. Longfellow's longtime residence in New England gave him a special gift for nautical themesÄhis poems about ships, sailing and the sea range from quick mood pieces to political allegories. TranslationsÄan important part of his workÄare also well represented. And historically minded readers will seek out his antislavery poems and his later verse on the Civil War. Near the end of the volume comes his nearly plotlessÄbut thoroughly charmingÄMaine novella, Kavanagh. Though he may never regain his onetime prestige, Longfellow at his best was more fun, smarter, deeper, and a better craftsman than readers nowadays imagine; this hefty volume may finally let them know. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The Library of America had another banner year, producing collections of Scott Fitzgerald's first four books and this grand gathering of Wordsworth's poems, fiction, and essays. The volume is notable for bringing back into print the novel Kavanaugh, a Tale. (Classic Returns, LJ 11/15/00) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One from THE VOICES OF THE NIGHT The Spirit of Poetry There is a quiet spirit in these woods, That dwells where'er the gentle south-wind blows; Where, underneath the white-thorn, in the glade, The wild flowers bloom, or, kissing the soft air, The leaves above their sunny palms outspread. With what a tender and impassioned voice It fills the nice and delicate ear of thought, When the fast ushering star of morning comes O'er-riding the gray hills with golden scarf; Or when the cowled and dusky-sandalled Eve, In mourning weeds, from out the western gate, Departs with silent pace! That spirit moves In the green valley, where the silver brook, From its full laver, pours the white cascade; And, babbling low amid the tangled woods, Slips down through moss-grown stones with endless     laughter. And frequent, on the everlasting hills, Its feet go forth, when it doth wrap itself In all the dark embroidery of the storm, And shouts the stern, strong wind. And here, amid The silent majesty of these deep woods, Its presence shall uplift thy thoughts from earth, As to the sunshine and the pure, bright air Their tops the green trees lift. Hence gifted bards Have ever loved the calm and quiet shades. For them there was an eloquent voice in all The sylvan pomp of woods, the golden sun, The flowers, the leaves, the river on its way, Blue skies, and silver clouds, and gentle winds, The swelling upland, where the sidelong sun Aslant the wooded slope, at evening, goes, Groves, through whose broken roof the sky looks in, Mountain, and shattered cliff, and sunny vale, The distant lake, fountains, and mighty trees, In many a lazy syllable, repeating Their old poetic legends to the wind.     And this is the sweet spirit, that doth fill The world; and, in these wayward days of youth, My busy fancy oft embodies it, As a bright image of the light and beauty That dwell in nature; of the heavenly forms We worship in our dreams, and the soft hues That stain the wild bird's wing, and flush the clouds When the sun sets. Within her tender eye The heaven of April, with its changing light, And when it wears the blue of May, is hung, And on her lip the rich, red rose. Her hair Is like the summer tresses of the trees, When twilight makes them brown, and on her cheek Blushes the richness of an autumn sky, With ever-shifting beauty. Then her breath, It is so like the gentle air of Spring, As, from the morning's dewy flowers, it comes Full of their fragrance, that it is a joy To have it round us, and her silver voice Is the rich music of a summer bird, Heard in the still night, with its passionate cadence. Hymn to the Night [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 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! I felt her presence, by its spell of might,     Stoop o'er me from above; The calm, majestic presence of the Night,     As of the one I love. I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,     The manifold, soft chimes, That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,     Like some old poet's rhymes. From the cool cisterns of the midnight air     My spirit drank repose; The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,--     From those deep cisterns flows. O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear     What man has borne before! Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,     And they complain no more. Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!     Descend with broad-winged flight, The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,     The best-beloved Night! A Psalm of Life 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. 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. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,     Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow     Find us farther than to-day. 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. In the world's broad field of battle,     In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle!     Be a hero in the strife! 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! Lives of great men all remind us     We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us     Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another,     Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,     Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing,     With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing,     Learn to labor and to wait. The Light of Stars The night is come, but not too soon;     And sinking silently, All silently, the little moon Drops down behind the sky. There is no light in earth or heaven     But the cold light of stars; And the first watch of night is given     To the red planet Mars. Is it the tender star of love?     The star of love and dreams? Oh no! from that blue tent above     A hero's armor gleams. And earnest thoughts within me rise,     When I behold afar, Suspended in the evening skies,     The shield of that red star. O star of strength! I see thee stand     And smile upon my pain; Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand,     And I am strong again. Within my breast there is no light     But the cold light of stars; I give the first watch of the night     To the red planet Mars. The star of the unconquered will,     He rises in my breast, Serene, and resolute, and still,     And calm, and self-possessed. And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,     That readest this brief psalm, As one by one thy hopes depart,     Be resolute and calm. Oh, fear not in a world like this,     And thou shalt know erelong, Know how sublime a thing it is     To suffer and be strong. Footsteps of Angels When the hours of Day are numbered,     And the voices of the Night Wake the better soul, that slumbered,     To a holy, calm delight; Ere the evening lamps are lighted,     And, like phantoms grim and tall, Shadows from the fitful firelight     Dance upon the parlor wall; Then the forms of the departed     Enter at the open door; The beloved, the true-hearted,     Come to visit me once more; He, the young and strong, who cherished     Noble longings for the strife, By the roadside fell and perished,     Weary with the march of life! They, the holy ones and weakly,     Who the cross of suffering bore, Folded their pale hands so meekly,     Spake with us on earth no more! And with them the Being Beauteous,     Who unto my youth was given, More than all things else to love me,     And is now a saint in heaven. With a slow and noiseless footstep     Comes that messenger divine, Takes the vacant chair beside me,     Lays her gentle hand in mine. And she sits and gazes at me     With those deep and tender eyes, Like the stars, so still and saint-like,     Looking downward from the skies. Uttered not, yet comprehended,     Is the spirit's voiceless prayer, Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,     Breathing from her lips of air. Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,     All my fears are laid aside, If I but remember only     Such as these have lived and died! Copyright © 2000 Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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