Category Archives: February
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in present-day Maine to a revolutionary American family. His father was a lawyer, his grandfather a Revolutionary general, and his uncle a deceased veteran from the Battle of Tripoli (America’s first foreign conflict). Studious and inquisitive, Longfellow devoured books, became fluent in Latin, and graduated fourth in his class from Bowdoin University. He then took an extensive trip to Europe, where he learned French, Spanish, and Italian. When he returned to New England, he became a professor of modern languages at Bowdoin and later, Harvard University. He settled in Cambridge, where he set to work translating Dante’s Divine Comedy, a literary classic, and publishing numerous volumes of heroic, rhythmical, and even free verse poetry. His lyrical opus “Paul Revere’s Ride” cemented him as one of America’s favorite celebrities, finding him fame in Europe as well. As many magazines of the time avowed, Longfellow was responsible for carving out a space for poetry in America’s landscape; he established literature and verse as one of the most important aspects of American culture.
Longfellow was the first important American poet in history, as his work was important to the new nation. What artists or celebrities are important in representing our life now? Why?