Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poet, Author

1807 – 1882

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Who was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts. He studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems. Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife Mary Potter died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife Frances Appleton died in 1861 after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.

Longfellow wrote predominantly lyric poems, known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.

Famous Quotes:

  • It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.
  • We have not wings we cannot soar; but, we have feet to scale and climb, by slow degrees, by more and more, the cloudy summits of our time.
  • Youth comes but once in a lifetime.
  • Resolve and thou art free.
  • Trust no future, however pleasant! Let the dead past bury its dead! Act -- act in the living Present! Heart within and God overhead.
  • We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
  • Into each life some rain must fall, some days be dark and dreary.
  • The strength of criticism lies in the weakness of the thing criticized.
  • I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, who has sight so keen and strong That it can follow the flight of song? Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroken; And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.
  • Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.

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Born
Feb 27, 1807
Portland
Also known as
  • Wadsworth Henry Longfellow
  • Henry W Longfellow
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Bowdoin College
Lived in
  • Cambridge
  • Maine
  • Portland
Died
Mar 24, 1882
Cambridge

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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