Chapter 23: Longfellow as a poet
The great literary lesson of Longfellow
's life is to be found, after all, in this, that while he was the first among American poets to create for himself a world-wide fame, he was guided from youth to age by a strong national feeling, or at any rate by the desire to stand for the life and the associations by which he was actually surrounded.
Such a tendency has been traced in this volume from his first childish poetry through his chosen theme for a college debate, his commencement oration, his plans formed during a first foreign trip, and the appeal made in his first really original paper in the ‘North American Review.’
All these elements of aim and doctrine were directly and explicitly American, and his most conspicuous poems, ‘Evangeline,’ ‘The Courtship of Miles Standish,’ ‘Hiawatha,’ and ‘The Wayside Inn
,’ were unequivocally American also.
In the group of poets to which he belonged, he was the most travelled and the most cultivated, in the ordinary sense, while Whittier
was the least so; and yet they are, as we have