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Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth - Poems and Other Writings


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poems and Other Writings

 
"This is the real stuff..."
—New Criterion
 
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Reviews  |  Table of Contents
 
This volume contains 127 poems and 15 translations of poems published by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during his lifetime; selections from the long poem Christus: A Mystery, first published in 1871; and two poems and selections from the verse drama Michael Angelo that were left in manuscript at the time of Longfellow's death in 1882. Following the poems, this volume presents Longfellow's novel Kavanagh, A Tale (1849), and three essays composed between 1825 and 1859.

Many of Longfellow's poems were first published in magazines, anthologies, and gift-book editions. If Longfellow revised his poems after their first publication, he would usually do so when preparing one of his own volumes. Longfellow published 12 gatherings of new poetry and five book-length poems between 1839 and 1880: The Voices of the Night (Cambridge: John Owen, 1839); Ballads and Other Poems (Cambridge: John Owen, 1842); Poems on Slavery (Cambridge: John Owen, 1842); The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (Cambridge: John Owen, 1845); Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1847); The Seaside and the Fireside (Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields, 1850); The Golden Legend (Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields, 1851); The Song of Hiawatha (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1855); The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1858); Tales of a Wayside Inn (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1863); Flower-de-Luce (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866); The New England Tragedies (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1868); The Divine Tragedy (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871); Aftermath (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1873); The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875); Kııramos and Other Poems (Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1878); and Ultima Thule (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1880). The Golden Legend, The New England Tragedies, and The Divine Tragedies were collected as a single work in Christus: A Mystery (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871). A posthumously-published volume, In the Harbor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1882), collected Longfellow's late poems, most of which had previously appeared in periodicals.

In addition to these volumes, Longfellow's poems were reprinted, and in some instances published for the first time in book form, in collected editions, such as Poems (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1845); Poems (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1857), the "Blue and Gold" edition; Household Poems (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1865); Poetical Works (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1866); Three Books of Song (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1872); The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1873); Poetical Works (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1874), the "Household" edition; and Complete Poetical Works (Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1876), the "Centennial" edition. Most of these collected editions reprinted all of Longfellow's poetry that had been published up to their time of publication.

There are often variations in wording and punctuation between different editions of Longfellow's poetry; there are also variations between different printings of specific editions. Some of these variations are simply corrections of error, but others are Longfellow's revisions, though he did not revise poems extensively once they had appeared in book form. For example, the version of "The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride" that appears in Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863) differs from the version published in the 1866 Poetical Works in three places: line 31, "Then he climbed to the tower of the church" is revised to "Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church," and "Up" is changed to "By" at lines 32 and 37. The 1866 version was then reprinted in subsequent collected editions of Longfellow's poetry. These changes are typical of the sorts of revisions made to the poems in collected editions, when any were made at all. In the case of his translations, Longfellow would sometimes make revisions because of new scholarship. When preparing his collection The Poets and Poetry of Europe in 1844, a book that included several of his translations, Longfellow wrote to Carey and Hart, his publishers, that he would be "interested in future editions and would make the improvements and additions from time to time which will be required to keep the book up to the level of the new translations, which are constantly appearing."

Shortly after Longfellow's death, Horace E. Scudder edited and published Works (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1886), an 11-volume edition that collected Longfellow's original poems, translations, and prose works. In addition to the poems already published, it also included poems that were in manuscript at the time of Longfellow's death. The texts of this "Riverside" edition incorporate Longfellow's final revisions; therefore the texts of all poems printed in the present volume are taken from the 1886 "Riverside" edition.

Although he published more than 30 poems in newspapers and magazines while an undergraduate at Bowdoin, Longfellow wrote few original poems in the eleven years following his graduation in 1825. Of the poems printed in this volume, only "The Spirit of Poetry," composed in 1825, was written before 1838. It was later published in The Voices of the Night (1839), Longfellow's first volume of poems, which also included "Hymn to the Night," "A Psalm of Life," "The Light of Stars," and "Footsteps of Angels," written in 1838 or 1839. "The Skeleton in Armor," "The Wreck of the Hesperus," "The Village Blacksmith," "It Is Not Always May," "The Rainy Day," "God's-Acre," "To the River Charles," "The Goblet of Life," and "Excelsior," poems written between December 1839 and November 1841, were published in Ballads and Other Poems (1842). Longfellow wrote "The Slave's Dream," "The Slave Singing at Midnight," "The Witnesses," and "The Warning" at sea in November 1842, while returning from Europe on board the Great Western. These poems were published with four other anti-slavery poems the following month in Poems on Slavery.

Poems, published in Philadelphia by Carey and Hart in November 1845, was the first collected edition of Longfellow's poetry. It reprinted The Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems but also contained poems not previously published in book form: "A Gleam of Sunshine," "The Arsenal at Springfield," "Rain in Summer," "The Occultation of Orion," "The Bridge," "To the Driving Cloud," "Afternoon in February," and "Curfew." These poems appeared the following month in The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845), a volume that also included "The Day Is Done," which had been published as the "Proem" to The Waif (Cambridge: John Owen, 1845), an anthology edited by Longfellow. Poems was also the first book publication of "Sea-Weed," later collected in The Seaside and the Fireside (1850). Poems did not include poems from Poems on Slavery.

"Autumn," "Dante," "The Evening Star," "The Old Clock on the Stairs," "To a Child," and "The Arrow and the Song" were first published in book form in The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845), which collected poems written between 1842 and 1845.

Longfellow first heard the legend that he adapted for Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie from Reverend Horace Conolly, an acquaintance of Hawthorne's, in 1840 or 1841. Conolly, who had previously told Hawthorne the story, repeated it while visiting Longfellow in Cambridge with Hawthorne. According to Longfellow's account of the conversation, he then asked Hawthorne, "If you have really made up your mind not to use it for a story, will you give it to me for a poem?" Hawthorne agreed and did not mention the legend in his "The Removal of the Inhabitants of Acadia," published in Famous Old People: Being the Second Epoch of Grandfather's Chair (1841). Hawthorne sent Longfellow a copy of Famous Old People early in 1841; Longfellow then had a second conversation with Conolly and Hawthorne and read Thomas Chandler Haliburton's History of Nova Scotia (1829) and George Bancroft's essay "The Exiles of Acadia," published in 1841. He did not begin writing the poem, however, until November 1845, using the working title "Gabrielle" at first. He worked on the poem steadily during 1846 and early 1847 and completed Evangeline, according to an entry in his journal, on February 27, 1847. The first edition of Evangeline was published on October 30, 1847, and met with enormous success; by January 1848 it was in its sixth printing, and it was frequently reprinted throughout Longfellow's career.

"The Building of the Ship," "Chrysaor" (under the title "The Evening Star"), "Twilight," "Sir Humphrey Gilbert," "The Lighthouse," "The Fire of Drift-Wood," "Resignation," "The Builders," "Sand of the Desert in an Hour-Glass," and "The Open Window" were published for the first time in book form in The Seaside and the Fireside (1850). These poems were written between 1846 and 1849.

On June 22, 1854, Longfellow wrote in his journal, "I have at length hit upon a plan for a poem on the American Indians, which seems to be the right one, and the only. It is to weave together their beautiful traditions into a whole. I have hit upon a measure, too, which I think the right and only one for such a theme." The "measure" was that of the Kalevala, the Finnish epic, which Longfellow was then reading in German translation. Longfellow wrote on June 25 that he was "making a beginning of 'Manabozho' or whatever the poem is to be called." The following day he began reading Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Conditions, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (6 vols., 1851-57) at the library at Harvard College, and on June 28 he decided to use "Hiawatha" as his working title. After writing steadily through 1854 and early 1855, he finished a draft in March 1855, then copied and revised his manuscript before sending it to the printer in May, remarking that "re-writing a poem so long as Hiawatha is very wearisome; but very profitable, as one can better see it as a whole, and fill up gaps." The Song of Hiawatha was published on November 10, 1855; according to an entry in Longfellow's journal of that day, "more than four thousand out of the five of the first edition are sold. They ordered a new edition of three thousand." A letter from his publisher dated January 1, 1856, informed Longfellow that the book was selling "at the rate of three thousand a day." A version containing Longfellow's revisions appeared in 1866 in Poetical Works.

Longfellow initially planned to write "The Courtship of Miles Standish" as a verse drama. He wrote the first scene on December 2, 1856, but did not return to the material until December 1857, when he began "a new poem 'Priscilla'; to be a kind of Puritan pastoral; the subject, the courtship of Miles Standish. This, I think, will be a better treatment of the subject than the dramatic one I wrote some time ago." He finished the manuscript, now titled "The Courtship of Miles Standish," on March 22, 1858. It was published in The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems (1858), with "Birds of Passage," written in 1845, and several poems written between 1849 and 1857: "The Ladder of St. Augustine," "The Phantom Ship," "The Warden of the Cinque Ports," "Haunted Houses," "In the Churchyard at Cambridge," "The Emperor's Bird's-Nest," "The Two Angels," "Daylight and Moonlight," "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport," "My Lost Youth," "The Ropewalk," "Daybreak," "The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz," "Children," and "Sandalphon." Three of these poems, "The Rope Walk," "The Two Angels," and "The Warden of the Cinque Ports," had been published previously in The Voices of the Night, Ballads, and Other Poems (London: Routledge and Co., 1857).

"The Children's Hour," "Enceladus," "The Cumberland," "Snow-Flakes," "A Day of Sunshine," "Something Left Undone," and "Weariness" were written between 1859 and 1863 and published in Tales of a Wayside Inn. Longfellow wrote several of the tales in Tales of a Wayside Inn, including "The Saga of King Olaf" and "Paul Revere's Ride," before deciding to bring them together in a single work. "The Saga of King Olaf," an adaptation of a story in the Heimskringla, was begun after Longfellow read a translation of the Icelandic epic in February 1859, although the opening section, "The Challenge of Thor" (which was intended to be part of Christus: A Mystery) was written in 1849. In a journal entry dated October 11, 1862, Longfellow records that he wrote "a little upon the Wayside Inn,-a beginning, only." Later that month, he chose "The Sudbury Tales" as a working title, and wrote to James Fields on November 11 that "The Sudbury Tales go on famously. I now have five complete, with a great part of the 'Prelude.'" When the work was announced as "The Sudbury Tales," Longfellow wrote to Fields: "Now that I see it announced I do not like the title." Tales of a Wayside Inn was published on November 25, 1863. The volume contained Part First of "Tales of a Wayside Inn"; Part Second was added in Three Books of Song (1872); Part Third was first published in Aftermath (1873) .

"Palingenesis," "Hawthorne," "Christmas Bells," "The Wind Over the Chimney," "Killed at the Ford," "Giotto's Tower," and "Divina Commedia" were published in Flower-de-Luce (1866), which collected poems written between 1864 and 1866. Two poems, "Pallingenesis" and "Christmas Bells," had previously appeared in book form in Household Poems (1865). The first sonnet of "Divina Commedia" had been published with Longfellow's translation of Dante's Inferno in 1865, the second with his translation of Purgatorio in 1866. The third sonnet was later reprinted for Longfellow's translation of Paradiso, which appeared in 1867.

The three parts of Christus: A Mystery were published separately in 1851, 1868, and 1871. The Golden Legend, written between 1849 and 1851, was completed first. According to a journal entry dated November 8, 1850, Longfellow had "nearly finished" a draft in blank verse; an entry dated March 28, 1851, recorded that he was revising the poem and "putting the blank verse into rhyme." The Golden Legend was published in November 1851. Longfellow worked on "John Endicott," using the tentative titles "The Old Colony" and "Wenlock Christison," periodically between 1856 and 1868. "Giles Corey of the Salem Farms" was written in 1868. The two works first appeared in book form in The New England Tragedies (1868). The Divine Tragedy was begun in 1870 and completed the following year. "Finale: St. John" was first published in the first edition of Christus: A Mystery (1872).

"The Haunted Chamber," "The Meeting," "Vox Populi," "Changed," "The Challenge," and "Aftermath" were published in Aftermath (1873), which collected poems written between 1870 and 1873. "Morituri Salutamus," "Belisarius," "Three Friends of Mine," "Chaucer," "Shakespeare," "Milton," "Keats," "The Galaxy," "The Sound of the Sea," and "A Nameless Grave," written between 1873 and 1875, were published in The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems (1875). "Morituri Salutamus" was read at Bowdoin College on July 7, 1875. The poem was revised for publication in the August 1875 edition of Harper's Monthly Magazine, then revised further for inclusion in The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems.

"Kııramos," "Vittoria Colonna," "The Revenge of Rain-in-the-Face," "Nature," "Eliot's Oak," "The Poets," "The Harvest Moon," "The Broken Oar," "Haroun al Raschid," "Venice," and "The Three Silences of Molinos" were written between 1875 and 1878 and published in Kııramos and Other Poems (1878). Longfellow had six copies of "Kııramos" privately printed, then revised the poem for publication in the December 1877 number of Harper's Monthly Magazine. It was further revised for publication in Kııramos and Other Poems. Excerpts from the poem appeared, under the titles "China Ware," "The Porcelain Tower," "Japan," and "Egypt," in the anthology Poems of Places, edited by Longfellow and published in Boston by James R. Osgood in 1877. Poems of Places also included the first book publications of "Castles in Spain," "Venice," and "Victoria Colonna," which appeared under the title "Inarime."

"The Chamber Over the Gate," "Jugurtha," "Helen of Tyre," "Elegiac," "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," "My Cathedral," "The Burial of the Poet," "Night," "The Poet and His Songs," poems written between 1878 and 1880, were published in Ultima Thule (1880). "The Poet's Calendar," "Autumn Within," "Victor and Vanquished," "Moonlight," "Hermes Trismegistus," and "The Bells of San Blas" were collected in the posthumous volume In the Harbor (1882). Of these poems, "Autumn Within," composed in 1874, was written earliest; the latest, "The Bells of San Blas," was written in 1882.

The selections in the "Other Poems" section of this volume were not published during Longfellow's lifetime. "Mezzo Cammin" was written on August 25, 1842. "The Cross of Snow" was written on July 10, 1879. Both poems were first published in Samuel Longfellow's Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with Extracts from His Journals and Correspondence (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1886). Michael Angelo: A Fragment was found among Longfellow's papers after his death in a nearly-completed state. The greater part of the poem was written in 1872 but was kept for possible revision. It was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in January, February, and March 1883. A newly-edited version appeared in 1886 in the "Riverside" edition.

As with his poems, this volume presents Longfellow's translations as they appeared in the "Riverside" edition, which include Longfellow's final revisions. "The Celestial Pilot," "The Terrestrial Paradise," and "Beatrice" were first published in The Voices of the Night (1839). These passages, with revisions, were incorporated into Longfellow's translation of Purgatorio, published in 1866. "The Good Shepherd" and "To-Morrow" first appeared in Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique (Boston: Akken and Ticknor, 1833), a volume of translations from the Spanish, and were also included in The Voices of the Night. "The Grave" was first published in The Voices of the Night. "Retribution" was first published in book form as one of the "Poetic Aphorisms" in The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845). "Let Me Go Warm," "The Sea Hath Its Pearls," "Rondel," "The Artist," "To Vittoria Colonna," "Dante," "A Neapolitan Canzonet" were first published in book form in Longfellow's anthology The Poets and Poetry of Europe (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1844); "Santa Teresa's Book-Mark" was added to an expanded edition of the anthology published in 1871.

Longfellow began writing Kavanagh in the spring of 1848. A draft of the novel was finished on November 9, 1848, and on February 13, 1849, Longfellow's journal records that "with some doubts and misgivings" he delivered a portion of the manuscript to the printer. He continued to work on it through March and April. Kavanagh, A Tale was published in Boston by Ticknor, Reed, and Fields on April 12, 1849. With minor revisions, it was included as part of The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published by Ticknor and Fields in 1866. It was collected in the "Riverside" edition, which is the text printed here.

"The Literary Spirit of Our Country" was published in The United States Literary Gazette on April 1, 1824, which is the text printed here, since it was not collected by Longfellow or included in the "Riverside" edition. "Table-Talk" was first published in the "Drift-Wood" section of Prose Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in Boston by Ticknor and Fields in 1857. The text printed here is taken from the "Riverside" edition. "Address on the Death of Washington Irving" was read as a speech during a meeting at the Massachusetts Historical Society on December 5, 1859, and printed in Irvingiana: A Memorial of Washington Irving (New York: Charles B. Richardson, 1860). Since the speech was not included in the "Riverside" edition, the text printed here is taken from Irvingiana.

The following is a list of pages where a stanza break coincides with the foot of the page (except where such breaks are apparent from the regular stanzaic structure of the poem: This volume presents the texts listed here without change except for the correction of typographical errors; it does not attempt to reproduce features of their typographic design. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are often expressive, and they are not altered, even when inconsistent or irregular. The following is a list of typographical errors in the source texts that have been corrected, cited by page and line number: 184.37, they.; 787.9, Kavanagh,; 791.34, pay.

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