Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

Portrait
Born: Feb 27, 1807 AD
Died: 1882 AD, at 75 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Poets


1807 - Born on February 27th in Portland, Massachusetts. He was the most popular American poet in the 19th century.

1825 - He graduated from Bowdoin College. At college he was attracted especially to Sir Walter Scott's romances and Washington Irving's Sketch Book, and his verses appeared in national magazines

1829 - He returned to the United States to be a professor and librarian at Bowdoin. He wrote and edited textbooks, translated poetry and prose, and wrote essays on French, Spanish, and Italian literature, but he felt isolated.

1835 - When he was offered a professorship at Harvard, with another opportunity to go abroad, he accepted and set forth for Germany. On this trip he visited England, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

         - He was saddened by the death of his first wife, whom he had married, he settled at Heidelberg, where he fell under the influence of German Romanticism.

         - His travel sketches, "Outre-Mer", did not succeed.

1836 - Longfellow returned to Harvard and settled in the famous Craigie House, which was later given to him as a wedding present when he remarried.

1839 - He published "Voices of the Night", which contained the poems “Hymn to the Night,” “The Psalm of Life,” and “The Light of the Stars” and achieved immediate popularity.

         - Longfellow published "Hyperion", a romantic novel idealizing his European travels.

1841 - His "Ballads and Other Poems", containing such favourites as “The Wreck of the Hesperus” and “The Village Blacksmith,” swept the nation.

1842 - The antislavery sentiments he expressed in "Poems on Slavery", however, lacked the humanity and power of John Greenleaf Whittier's denunciations on the same theme.

1847 - Longfellow was more at home in "Evangeline", a narrative poem that reached almost every literate home in the United States.

1854 - Longfellow presided over Harvard's modern-language program for 18 years and then left teaching.

1855 - Using Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's two books on the Indian tribes of North America as the base and the trochaic metrics of the Finnish epic Kalevala as his medium, he fashioned "The Song of Hiawatha".

1858 - Longfellow's long poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish" was another great popular success.

1861 - The death of his second wife after she accidentally set her dress on fire plunged him into melancholy. Driven by the need for spiritual relief, he translated the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, producing one of the most notable translations to that time, and wrote six sonnets on Dante that are among his finest poems.

1863 - The Tales of a Wayside Inn, modeled roughly on Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and published, reveals his narrative gift. The first poem, “Paul Revere's Ride,” became a national favourite.

1872 - Longfellow published what he intended to be his masterpiece, "Christus: A Mystery", a trilogy dealing with Christianity from its beginning. He followed this work with two fragmentary dramatic poems, “Judas Maccabaeus” and “Michael Angelo.” But his genius was not dramatic, as he had demonstrated earlier in The Spanish Student.

1882 - Died on March 24th in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

         - Long after his death, however, his neglected later works were seen to contain some of his most effective writing.

1884 - He was honoured by the placing of a memorial bust in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London, the first American to be so recognized. Sweetness, gentleness, simplicity, and a romantic vision shaded by melancholy are the characteristic features of Longfellow's poetry.

Page last updated: 2:10am, 17th Mar '07
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