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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow










Born: February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine, United States
Died: March 24, 1882, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Many of the lines of Longfellow is so familiar to us and quoted as inspirations, he is the best loved and popular American Poet in the world. Easy to understand, his poems touches our hearts as he had the rhythm and beauty of a song,

optimistic vision and extreme faith in goodness of life and living. He was greatly influenced by the book of Washington Irving’s ‘Sketch Book’ apart from ‘Don Quixote’ which was his favorite read. In Hiawatha, the long poem begins with Gitche Matino, the Great Spirit, commanding his people to live in peace and tells how Hiawatha is born. It ends with the coming of the white man and Hiawatha’s death. The publication of ‘Hiawatha’ caused the greatest excitement. For the first time in American literature, Indian themes gained recognition as sources of imagination, power, and originality. The appeal of ‘Hiawatha’ for generations of children and young people gives it an enduring place in world literature.

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.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Home 

An interesting site for all Teachers as the Poet’s Life is offering lessons in the Classroom and innovative way to teach History as well as make the students learn English Literature.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who was popular and successful during his time. He is noted for his ability to write about the hopes and tragedies of life in a simplistic style and with technical expertise.

His father was an influential and successful lawyer. Longfellow was educated at the private schools, Portland Academy, and Bowdoin College. He graduated at the age of fifteen. He was heavily influenced at school by the writings of Sir Walter Scott and Washington Irving.

After graduation he began to teach modern languages at Bowdoin. The new curriculum meant that Longfellow studied European culture. His exposure to French, Spanish, and Italian during his travels are reflected in his own works.

In 1831, he married Mary Potter. Three years later, he accepted a position at Harvard, which resulted in another trip to Europe. During this tour, he visited England, Sweden, and The Netherlands where he was deeply affected by German Romanticism. On this trip, however, Mary’s poor health ended with her death at Rotterdam. Longfellow felt that her death was his greatest sorrow.

On his return from Europe, he moved into the famous Craigie House, which was given to him as a wedding present when he was remarried to Francis Appleton. His second marriage ended traumatically eighteen years later when his wife was fatally burned and died.

From his first book of verse, Voices of the Night, published in 1839 to his longer works, such as Tales of a Wayside Inn, published in 1863, he was a popular, successful, and influential author throughout his life. He was able to leave his Harvard position in 1854 and support himself with his writing.

On his last trip to Europe at that age of sixty -one, he was given honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge. Fourteen years later, he published his last poems in a collection, entitled In the Harbor. A few weeks later, he suddenly developed an illness that caused his death.

Maine’s Historical Society’s Website
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