On the Day After the Election…

Looking to literature to provide some inspiration on the election results in the United States, I looked to The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and poetry from Maya Angelou and Rudyard Kipling, but the one I settled on is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (living in Hawaii may have influenced my choice):

THE TIDE RISES, THE TIDE FALLS 

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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Maine – Lobsters and Longfellow

As I conduct my personal survey of Maine lobster rolls, the colorful Fall leaves, lighthouses, and beautiful coastline offer a distraction. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthplace and childhood home, a brick house not far from the water in Portland,Maine, is now a museum. Although his bedroom window had a view of the sea, inspiration for many of his poems, modern buildings now block that vista.

Of course, I found the bookstore named for the famous poet.

Both Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne studied at Bowdoin College, my next stop.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today is Longfellow’s birthday and I’ll bet you can quote at least one of his 174 poems…

  • I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I know not where
  • Ships that pass in the night and speak to each other in passing
  • Under a spreading chestnut-tree, The village smithy stands
  • Listen my children and you shall hear, Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…One if by land, and two if by sea…

He was friend to Hawthorne, Dickens, and Oscar Wilde, among others.  Ralph Waldo Emerson called Longfellow ” a sweet and beautiful soul.”  And in Drood, Dan Simmons refers to Longfellow’s work in translating Dante’s Inferno.

Charles Calhoun wrote a biography, Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life, that includes Longfellow’s “tragic romantic life–his first wife dies tragically early, after a miscarriage, and his second wife, Fannie Appleton, dies after accidentally setting herself on fire.”  And Meghan Fitzmaurice wrote a young adult summary of his life for The Library of American Thinkers series – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: American Poet, Linguist, and Educator.  The latter gives all the essential facts, with some great pictures, especially of the young beardless Longfellow.  I am more familiar, as everyone else, with his portrait as the elder with a long white beard.

A teacher, a college professor, a family man, a New Englander from Maine- but most of all, a lover of books, who learned to read at three years old.  My favorite Longfellow quote…

“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,

And all the sweet serenity of books. “