Henry Longfellow (1807-1882)

Henry Longfellow has written many lyrical poems describing nature, and many poems about America’s past. Hewasborninalittletown. ofPortlandon theAtlanticcoastinthefamilyof the lawyer. His parents were rich people, so Longfellow got an expensive education and could travel a great deal. He spent several years travelling in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and England where he studied languages and literature. Later he headed the chair of modern language and literature in Harward University.

Longfellow’s first collection of lyrical poems “Voices of the Night” appeared in 1839; it was followed in 1842 by “Ballads and Other Poems”. In the same 1842 he wrote his famous “Poems of Slavery” in which he described the terrible fate of the Negro slaves and supported the anti-slavery movement.

Longfellow was greatly interested in folk songs. His masterpiece is best-known long poem “The Song of Hiawatha” (1885) based on the legends of the American Indians. In this poem Longfellow expressed his deep sympathy for the Indian people.

Longfellow’s poems are full of melody and they show his friendliness with which he looked on people. Longfellow compiled and translated for 30 years a vast anthology called “Poets of Europe”. This colossal work of translating poets of different times was finished to 1870 when the last of the 31 volumes was printed. Up to the present day this anthology remains one of the best. By the end of his life Longfellow had won recognition all over the world. Many universities awarded him with honorary degrees. He was elected to mem’r bership by the Spanish, British, French and Russian Academies of Sciences. He is the only American poet whose bust occupies a niche in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner. Longfellow died at the age of 75 when he was at the peak of his fame.

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Henry Longfellow (1807-1882)