Ballads and Other Poems

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Page 43 - But the father answered never a word, A frozen corpse was he. Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark, With his face to the skies, The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow On his fixed and glassy eyes. Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed That saved she might be ; And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, On the Lake of Galilee.
Page 32 - Once as I told in glee Tales of the stormy sea, Soft eyes did gaze on me, Burning yet tender ; And as the white stars shine On the dark Norway pine, On that dark heart of mine Fell their soft splendor.
Page 45 - ... glass, she stove and sank, Ho ! ho ! the breakers roared ! At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, A fisherman stood aghast, To see the form of a maiden fair, Lashed close to a drifting mast. The salt sea was frozen on her breast, The salt tears in her eyes ; And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, On the billows fall and rise. Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, In the midnight and the snow ! Christ save us all from a death like this, On the reef of Norman's Woe ! THE LUCK OF EDENHALL.
Page 44 - And ever the fitful gusts between A sound came from the land; It was the sound of the trampling surf, On the rocks and the hard sea-sand. The breakers were right beneath her bows, She drifted a dreary wreck, And a whooping billow swept the crew Like icicles from her deck. She struck where the white and fleecy waves Looked soft as carded wool, But the cruel rocks, they gored her side Like the horns of an angry bull. Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, With the masts went by the board; Like...
Page 127 - His brow was sad; his eye beneath, Flashed like a falchion from its sheath, And like a silver clarion rung The accents of that unknown tongue, Excelsior ! In happy homes he saw the light Of household fires gleam warm and bright; Above, the spectral glaciers shone, And...
Page 109 - THE RAINY DAY. THE day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary ; The vine still clings to the mouldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary.
Page 120 - Above the lowly plants it towers, The fennel, with its yellow flowers, And in an earlier age than ours Was gifted with the wondrous powers, Lost vision to restore. It gave new strength, and fearless mood ; And gladiators, fierce and rude, Mingled it in their daily food ; And he who battled and subdued, A wreath of fennel wore.
Page 97 - THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH. UNDER a spreading chestnut tree The village smithy stands ; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands ; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands. His hair is crisp, and black, and long, His face is like the tan ; His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate'er he can, And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man.
Page 100 - Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, For the lesson thou hast taught! Thus at the flaming forge of life Our fortunes must be wrought; Thus on its sounding anvil shaped Each burning deed and thought!
Page xxi - How beautiful the long, mild twilight, which like a silver clasp unites to-day with yesterday ! How beautiful the silent hour, when Morning and Evening thus sit together, hand in hand, beneath the starless sky of midnight...

About the author (1842)

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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