An Evening with Longfellow

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General Books, 2009 - 76 pages
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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1907 edition. Excerpt: ...Death relaxed his iron features, And the monk replied, 'Amen!' Many centuries have been numbered Since in death the baron slumbered By the convent's sculptured portal, Mingling with the common dust: But the good deed, through the ages Living in historic pages, Brighter grows and gleams immortal, Unconsumed by moth or rust. RAIN IN SUMMER. How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, In the broad and fiery street, In the narrow lane, How beautiful is the rain! How it clatters along the roofs, Like the tramp of hoofs! How it gushes and struggles out From the throat of the overflowing spout! Across the window-pane It pours and pours; And swift and wide, With a muddy tide, Like a river down the gutter roars The rain, the welcome rain! The sick man from his chamber looks At the twisted brooks; He can feel the cool Breath of each little pool; His fevered brain Grows calm again, And he breathes a blessing on the rain. From the neighboring school Come the boys, With more than their wonted noise And commotion; And down the wet streets Sail their mimic fleets, Till the treacherous pool Ingulfs them in its whirling And turbulent ocean. In the country, on every side, Where far and wide, Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide. Stretches the plain, To the dry grass and the drier grain How welcome is the rain! In the furrowed land The toilsome and patient oxen stand; Lifting the yoke-encumbered head, With their dilated nostrils spread, They silently inhale The clover-scented gale, And the vapors that arise From the well-watered and smoking soil For this rest in the furrow after toil Their large and lustrous eyes Seem to thank the Lord, More than man's spoken word. Near at hand, From under the sheltering trees, The farmer sees His pastures, and his...

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About the author (2009)

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).

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