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Chapter 21: the Loftier strain: Christus

After all, no translation, even taken at its best, can wholly satisfy an essentially original mind. Longfellow wrote in his diary, November 19, 1849, as follows: ‘And now I long to try a loftier strain, the sublimer Song whose broken melodies have for so many years breathed through my soul in the better hours of life, and which I trust and believe will ere long unite themselves into a symphony not all unworthy the sublime theme, but furnishing “some equivalent expression for the trouble and wrath of life, for its sorrow and its mystery.” ’

This of course refers to the great poetic design of his life, ‘Christus, a Mystery,’ of which he wrote again on December 10, 1849, ‘A bleak and dismal day. Wrote in the morning The Challenge of Thor as prologue or Introitus to the second part of Christus.’ This he laid aside; just a month from that time he records in his diary, ‘In the evening, pondered and meditated the sundry scenes of “Christus.” ’ Later, he wrote some half dozen scenes or more of

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