Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Brendan Wu & Melaney Zranchev
Background Born: February 27,teaching Portland, In 1836, he began 1807 in at Harvard Maine University Son of Stephen and Zilpah 1843 he married Frances Appleton Longfellow children together and had six At the age of six, Henryfrom being His wife died tragically Longfellow showed aburned after her dress caught severely great propensity toward writing on fire At age 19, he famous beard conceals Longfellow’s graduated from Bowdoin College with classmate he his scars, which he obtained when Nathaniel Hawthorne wife from the attempted to save his He traveled throughout Europe for fire three years, preparing himself Comedy He translated Dante’s Devine to for hismeans of comfort as new career as a college professor in modern languages 1882 from He died on March 24, 1831 Married Mary Storer Potter, peritonitis but later died during a miscarriage
Mary Storer Potter, Fanny Appleton Frances Appleton,Longfellow’s first wife Longfellow, with sons Longfellow’s second Charles and Ernest wife
Significant WorksPoetry: Other Works:Evangeline (1847) Dante’s Divine Comedy of AlighieriThe Seaside and Fireside (1849) (poetry in translation)The Song of Hiawatha (1855) Hyperion: A Romance (Fiction)The Courtship of Miles Standish(1858) Kavanagh: A Tale (Fiction) The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere The Spanish Student (Drama)(1860) Poets and Poetry of Europe (poetryThree Books of Song (1872)The Masque of Pandora and Other in translation)PPoems (1875)
Literary PeriodRomanticism A style of writing that came about in the late 18th century. It focuses on the natural world, and on abstract ideas of imagination, on love, death, nature, and freedom Romantic style values feelings and intuition over reasoning The themes in most of Longfellow’s poems tend to use the Romantic writing style through the actions of characters
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.Here in this room she died; and soul more white Never through martyrdom of fire was led To its repose; nor can in books be read The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines Displays a cross of snow upon its side. Such is the cross I wear upon my breastThese eighteen years, through all the changing scenes And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
Analysis of Poem This poem reflects the grief and agony of Longfellow as he remembers the tragic incident of his wife’s death. Her dress caught fire as she was sealing a locket of her daughters hair (a far more popular keepsake in the 19th century than later), and Longfellow was severely burned as he put out the flames but failed to save her life. It is probably a testament to his will that her gentle face (line 2) appears as he must have so often seen it during their 19-year marriage instead of in the agonized aftermath of her "martyrdom by fire" (line 6). Although the poet saw only a picture of the Colorado mountain with its cruciform snow-filled crevices, he liked the image so well that he took it as emblematic of his circumstances. As her death occurred in July 1861, internal evidence ("I carried this cross eighteen years," line 13) dates the composition of the poem as 1879. As an image, the cross "upon [his] breast" (line 11) suggests the white welts that can scar a burn victim, but it reminds him not of her death but of her life in much the same way that the Christian cross represents not the death of Christ but his life and the promise of Resurrection. Instead of reminding him of her suffering, the pristine snow brings to mind her purity.
Longfellow’s Inspiration “Longfellow’s sonnet “The Cross of Snow” was inspired by two images familiar to Longfellow. One was Fanny’s portrait by Samuel Worcester Rowse (1859) and the other was an engraving of Jackson’s photograph of the “Mountain of the Holy Cross” (1875). This engraving showed a striking natural phenomenon in the Rocky Mountains; snow- filled crevices on the side of a mountain in the Rockies projected the image of a cross which could be seen from many miles away. Because the crevices were so high on the mountain, the crevices remained snow-filled year around. In the mid 1800’s few Easterners, including Longfellow, had visited the Rocky Mountains, and such an image created much interest back East.” (Willink, Mary) Mountain of the Holy Cross Fannie Appleton Longfellow
Literary Criticism“During his lifetime, Longfellow was immensely popular and widelyadmired. He was the first American poet to gain a favorableinternational reputation, and his poetry was praised abroad by sucheminent authors as Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Alfred Tennyson,Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman. In the decades thatfollowed, however, the idealism and sentimentality that characterizemuch of his verse fell out of favor with younger poets and criticswho were beginning to embrace realism and naturalism. Longfellowsliterary reputation further declined in the twentieth century with theadvent of Modernism. Reviled as superficial and didactic, his poetrywas largely dismissed and received little further critical attention.”
Literary Criticism “Longfellow is classified with others in Fieldss Houghton-Mifflin stable as one of those authors used to impose a presumed "high culture" of English Puritan origins on subsequent generations and immigrant populations, even though Longfellow might also be recognized as one whose broadly inclusive responsiveness to European traditions could have smoothed assimilation for the children of newcomers from central and southern Europe. In many ways Longfellow may be read as a friend of American multiculturalism. His reputation could also benefit from renewed critical respect for sentimentalism, especially as that respect gets extended to male authors."
Literary Criticism “Longfellow gave poetry higher standing within American society than it had enjoyed ever before, not only by exemplifying the appeal of graceful, informed writing to an exceptionally wide reading audience but also by making art itself one of his centering themes. In an age that judged literature largely in moral terms as expressive of an authors personal virtues, Longfellow became everymans kindly, sympathizing, gently encouraging friend. At present, however, Longfellow has been relegated to the status of an historically interesting minor poet whose poems occupy only a few pages in recent anthologies and do so in ways that obscure the reasons for his original popularity.”
Achievements More than a million copies of his poetry had been sold. Granted private audiences with Queen Victoria Granted honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Became the first American to be honored a memorial in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey--a distinction reserved for the greatest English poets In America, a national holiday was declared to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday From the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, nearly every school-age child in the United States and most of Britain were required to read some of his poetry.
Longfellow’s Birthplace: Portland, Maine Longfellow and Senator Charles SumnerLongfellow’s memorial in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey The first Longfellow stamp, issued in Portland on February 16, 1940
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