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Providence, R. I. (Rhode Island, United States) (search for this): chapter 5
nd in the collection of his minor poems, and in which he speaks of her as- The Queen of the West in her garden dressed, By the banks of the beautiful river. In the midst of this unrivalled prosperity, this distinction of genius, and public and private honor, on the ninth of July, 1861, there came one of the most harrowing tragedies that has ever befallen a man's domestic life. Longfellow was widowed for the second time, and five children were left without a mother. It seemed as if Providence had set a limit beyond which human happiness could not pass. It was after this calamity that Longfellow undertook his metrical translation of Dante's Divina Commedia, a much more difficult and laborious work than writing original poetry. As his brother said, He required an absorbing occupation to prevent him from thinking of the past. No wonder that in later years he said, in his exquisite verses on the Mountain of the Holy Cross in Colorado, these pathetic words, On my heart also th
Austria (Austria) (search for this): chapter 5
poets in England in the time of Shakespeare, and in the century during which Dante lived Europe fairly swarmed with poets, many of them of high excellence. Frederick II. of Germany and Richard I. of England were both good poets, and were as proud of their verses as they were of their military exploits. Frederick II. may be said to have founded the vernacular in which Dante wrote; and Longfellow rendered into English a poem of Richard's which he composed during his cruel imprisonment in Austria. A knight who could not compose a song and sing it to the guitar was as rare as a modern gentleman of fashion who cannot play golf. When James Russell Lowell resigned the chair of poetry at Harvard no one could be found who could exactly fill his place, and it was much the same at Oxford after Matthew Arnold retired. The difference between then and now would seem to reside in the fact, that poetry is more easily remembered than prose. From the time of Homer until long after the invent
Bowdoin (Montana, United States) (search for this): chapter 5
s the editor of the Literary Gazette stated it: A young tree which puts forth so many blossoms is likely to bear good fruits. With the close of his college course came the important question of Longfellow's future occupation. His father, with good practical judgment, foresaw that poetry alone would not serve to make his son self-supporting and independent; but the boy hated to give this up for a more prosaic employment. While the discussion was going on between them, the authorities of Bowdoin solved the problem for them both by offering young Longfellow a professorship of modern languages on condition that he would spend two years in Europe preparing himself for the position. He had graduated fourth in his class. Does not this prove the advantage of good scholarship? Was the rank list inverted in Longfellow's case? I think not. He had lived a virtuous and industrious life, not studying for rank or honor, but because he enjoyed doing what was right and fit for a young man t
Verona (Italy) (search for this): chapter 5
n him and he conversed with them in their own dialect, greatly to their surprise and satisfaction. From a number of incidents in this journey, related by Rev. Samuel Longfellow, the following has a permanent interest: When the party came to Verona in May, 1869, they found Ruskin elevated on a ladder, from which he was examining the sculpture on a monument. As soon as he heard that the Longfellow party was below, he came down and greeted them very cordially. He was glad that they had stopped at Verona, which was so interesting and so often overlooked; he wanted them to observe the sculptures on the monument,--the softly-flowing draperies which seemed more as if they had been moulded with hands than cut with a chisel. He then spoke in grievous terms of the recent devastation by the floods in Switzerland, which had also caused much damage in the plains of Lombardy. He thought that reservoirs ought to be constructed on the sides of the mountains, which would stay the force of th
Lombardy (Italy) (search for this): chapter 5
e heard that the Longfellow party was below, he came down and greeted them very cordially. He was glad that they had stopped at Verona, which was so interesting and so often overlooked; he wanted them to observe the sculptures on the monument,--the softly-flowing draperies which seemed more as if they had been moulded with hands than cut with a chisel. He then spoke in grievous terms of the recent devastation by the floods in Switzerland, which had also caused much damage in the plains of Lombardy. He thought that reservoirs ought to be constructed on the sides of the mountains, which would stay the force of the torrents, and hold the water until it could be made useful. He wished that the Alpine Club would take an interest in the matter. After enjoying so much in Switzerland it would be only fair for them to do something for the benefit of the country. Mr. Appleton then said: That is a work for government to do; to which Ruskini replied: Governments do nothing but fill their poc
Lowell (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 5
Italy, and Germany, and then returned to Portland, the same true American as when he left there, without foreign ways or modes of thinking, and with no more than the slight aroma of a foreign air upon him. Longfellow and his whole family were natural cosmopolitans. There was nothing of the proverbial Yankee in their composition. Whittier was a Quaker by creed, but he was also much of a Yankee in style and manner. Emerson looked like a Yankee, and possessed the cool Yankee shrewdness. Lowell's Biglow Papers testified to the fundamental Yankee; but the Longfellows were endowed with a peculiar refinement and purity which seemed to distinguish them as much in Cambridge or London as it did in Portland, where there has always been a rather superior sort of society. It was like French refinement without being Gallic. No wonder that a famous poet should emanate from such a family. What we notice especially in the Longfellow Letters during this European sojourn is the admonition of
Brussels (Belgium) (search for this): chapter 5
s he really is, and this is true. Neither does Tennyson represent the knights of King Arthur's court as they were in the sixth century A. D. They are more like modern English gentlemen, and when we read the German Neibelungen we recognize this difference. Virgil's Aeneid does not belong to the period of the Trojan war, but this does not prevent the Aeneid from being very fine poetry. The American Indian is not without his poetic side, as is proved by the squaw who knelt down on a flowery Brussels carpet, and smoothing it with her hands, said: Hahnsome! Hahnsome! Heaven no hahnsomer! There is true poetry in this; and so there is in the Indian cradlesong: The poor little bee that lives in the tree; The poor little bee that lives in the tree; Has but one arrow in his quiver. Either of these incidents is sufficient to testify to Longfellow's Hiawatha. The best poetry is that which forces itself upon our memories, so that it becomes part of our life without the least effort
Switzerland (Switzerland) (search for this): chapter 5
e wanted them to observe the sculptures on the monument,--the softly-flowing draperies which seemed more as if they had been moulded with hands than cut with a chisel. He then spoke in grievous terms of the recent devastation by the floods in Switzerland, which had also caused much damage in the plains of Lombardy. He thought that reservoirs ought to be constructed on the sides of the mountains, which would stay the force of the torrents, and hold the water until it could be made useful. He wished that the Alpine Club would take an interest in the matter. After enjoying so much in Switzerland it would be only fair for them to do something for the benefit of the country. Mr. Appleton then said: That is a work for government to do; to which Ruskini replied: Governments do nothing but fill their pockets, and issue this, --taking out a handful of Italian paper currency, which was then much below par. Everyone has his or her favorite poet or poets, and it is a common practice with
Department de Ville de Paris (France) (search for this): chapter 5
. The loneliness of the situation becomes a weary burden, and it is dangerous from its very loneliness. Many have died or lost their health under such conditions (in fact Longfellow came near losing his life from Roman fever), and he wrote from Paris: Here one can keep evil at a distance as well as elsewhere, though, to be sure, temptations are multiplied a thousand-fold if he is willing to enter into them. A young man's first experience in London or Paris is a dangerous sense of freedom; foParis is a dangerous sense of freedom; for all the customary restraints of his daily life have been removed. Mrs. Stowe says of her beautiful character, Eva St. Clair, that all bad influences rolled off from her like dew from a cabbage leaf, and it was the same with Longfellow throughout. He lived in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and then returned to Portland, the same true American as when he left there, without foreign ways or modes of thinking, and with no more than the slight aroma of a foreign air upon him. Longfellow an
United States (United States) (search for this): chapter 5
istinguish themselves at the university, but they are the ones who, if they live, outstrip all others. But Longfellow did distinguish himself. In his Junior year he composed seventeen poems which were published, then and afterwards, in the United States Literary Gazette, where his name appeared beside that of William Cullen Bryant. This was quite exceptional in the history of American literature, and as the editor of the Literary Gazette stated it: A young tree which puts forth so many blosthe exiles set up a business in Hungarian wines, Longfellow made a large purchase of him, which he spoke of twenty years later with much satisfaction. He liked Tokay, and also the white wine of Capri, which he regretted could not be obtained in America. Those who supposed that Longfellow was easily imposed upon made a great mistake. He had the reputation among his publishers of understanding business affairs better than any author in New England; but he was almost too kind-hearted. Somewh
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