Page images

their experiences in Holland when Mrs. Longfellow died, - a gentle, beautiful nature whose memory will live in the lines of The Footsteps of Angels,

All my fears are laid aside
If I but remember only

Such as these have lived and died.

The professor continued his labours in Heidelberg, in the Tyrol, and in Switzerland, where his heavy heart was lightened by association with Miss Frances Appleton. In December, 1836, he entered on his work in Harvard.

Longfellow's life in Cambridge had about it something of ideal perfection. Craigie House, which was first his lodging, and after his marriage to Miss Appleton in 1843, his home, stands amid elms and hedges, a roomy, manywindowed house from which you see the salt marshes and winding stream of the Charles. The professors among whom Longfellow found himself were genial able men, bound together by lofty sympathies and hearty love and respect for each other and each other's work. Felton, Sumner, Hillard, Cleveland, and Longfellow were especially drawn together by the delightful dining and talking association of the “ Five of Clubs.” If one wrote anything, the others admired it. When Felton reviewed Evangeline in the North American Review, some one underscored the poet's name in a copy of the article, • Insured in the Mutual.' Good-health, a happy marriage, worldly prosperity, friends, congenial work,Longfellow might have feared the fate of Polycrates.

Almost immediately with his entry into Craigie House begins the long series of poems that made his name everywhere honoured and beloved. The Psalm of Life, Footsteps of Angels, The Reaper and the Flowers, Midnight

Mass, The Beleaguered City, etc., all appear in Longfellow's first volume of verse, Voices of the Night, 1839. Two years later followed Ballads and Other Poems, containing other of the poet's best known piecesThe Wreck of the Hesperus, The Village Blacksmith, Maidenhood, Excelsior. How familiar these names are to everybody, every child even! What better proof could be of the universal charm he has exercised over this age. Then came Evangeline and Miles Standish, and the various collections of poems in Seaside and Fireside, Birds of Passage, and Tales of a Wayside Inn, Hiawatha, the epic of the Indian, and The Golden Legend, the epic of medievalism, which finally formed with Christus and the New England Tragedies a Divine Tragedy portraying three aspects of Christianity. There are also two more volumes of prose, Hyperion and Kavenagh, which by no means equal Longfellow's poetry.

One great sorrow overcast the poet's later life. The


In the long sleepless watches of the night, depicts at once the martyrdom of fire by which his wife died and the cross of snow that her death laid upon his breast. In 1880, Ultima Thule announced that the poet was reaching the goal of all human steps. On March 24th, 1882, he died, with these words fresh from his pen:

Out of the shadow of night
The world rolls into light;

It is daybreak everywhere. It is this spirit of light that pervades all Longfellow's work. He was essentially an interpretative genius, the apostle of old-world culture preaching in the midst of a new, vigorous, but on the whole unlettered community. Yet his translations, exquisite as they are, bis books of travel, sunny as the lands they depict, are only the most evident part of his mission. More than any other poet he has made the thoughts and feelings born of a wide acquaintance with literature the daily possession of most English readers. The people found in Longfellow one who reached their hearts by appeals to a common elemental nature. For these Longfellow has written poems which inspire and console, and through the power of tender sympathy help to refine and elevate and temper. Most readers have found a peculiar charm in those poems of Longfellow's that take hold of the commonplace and raise it, idealize it, and with a fancy skyborn yet shining about them, present it in a new light, beautiful with a beauty not too fine for simple and good hearts. To diffuse and popularize the truths of poetry, to bring strength, sunshine, and the stirrings of a better life to multitudes of men and women, this is Longfellow's mission. His honoured place among lyric poets is incontestable, and by at least one extensive poem he has found a place among our best descriptive poets. The succession of lovely pictures, the peaceful village, the primeval forest, the autumnal landscape, the silent aisles of Southern bayous, the limitless prairies, the inaccessible mountains where sing the silver cords of mighty torrents, the ocean moaning hoarsely among its rocky caverns,—these will be held in loving memory while Time with unfading laurel crowns the idyll of Evangeline.


"The shades of night were falling fast

vre d

heasant Dung

His brow was sad, but his are limeath
Flashice like a falchim from its sheak

Shinted blue ane , h. And like a sindadasion mush ocenenie che contenantong


de champ homes he saw the light of household fues, glem clear and light, And far der head the glace a shone Hi lipud Wrench'd with stefees grom

- Excelsons

Glal suns

Try not the pass!" the old man said, Dark lowers the tempest con-heada The woning terunt i depe & inde!" And clean to his clappt vore replied


« PreviousContinue »