Essay about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Fellow’s Long Worth

How does one describe a poet when he has already described himself with his own words? Although Henry Wadsworth Longfellow isn’t popular, he is such a poet. As described by Arnold Bennett, Longfellow is "the chief minor poet of the English language." Among a harsh lineup of critics, however, they claimed he fell short of literary. This is quite the contrary.

Longfellow attended Bowdoin college, near Portland, Maine where he was born and raised. The college offered him the newly formed position as chair of modern languages. "Two things are striking about this event: the informality of the academic approach to language studies and the obvious natural gift that Longfellow possessed"
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Instead of scribbling lofty lyrics and inscrutable stanzas, Longfellow’s poetry is simple, flows with a definite rhyme scheme, and allows anybody to encompass themselves with Longfellow’s visions. Some poems dealing with nature and his visions are "Daylight and Moonlight," "Hymn to the Night," "Daybreak" and "The Rainy Day." Each one describes a different time of day, whether it personifies the wind in "Daybreak" or gives a life lesson about gloomy days in "The Rainy Day." Unlike his contemporaries, Emerson, Poe, and Whitman, his poetry isn’t far-fetched or musty, trying to collapse the mind with theory and philosophy.

Even in his longer works, like "Hiawatha," "The Skeleton in Armor" and "Paul Revere’s Ride," Longfellow takes his pen and tells fervent stories that echo inside the reader. "He wished to write not only for ‘the few who think’ but also for ‘the many who feel,’ assuming a certain community of nature, interest, and cultural inheritance between himself and his readers" (Wagenknecht 22). Much like Thomas Paine in "The Crisis Papers," Longfellow knew his readers, and although they weren’t educated in the fundamentals of poetry, they were educated enough to read. This powered his poetry and therefore nature and emotion gorged his writing and propelled it forward, even if some critics and historians view him as an underdog. "It is time to rediscover Longfellow,
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