Monday, August 1, 2016
Longfellow - Endearing, Timeless, Universal Poet
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan.sa Himpapawid (School on Air) with Miss Grace Velasco
738 KHz AM 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Craigie House where Longfellow lived as professor
at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts; his study room
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is best known for his two long poems, published in separate books - Hiawatha and Evangeline. It is however a simple poem The Arrow and the Song that gives us a glimpse on his genius and love of humanity. It subtly touches the intellect, emotion and spirit of a wide profile of readers, old and young, the simple and learned, and it is as relevant today as it was in his time.
The Arrow and the Song
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak,
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
The style is easy to follow for amateur writers. The poem can be read in the classroom, it is a good introduction to declamation - or just poetry reading. It is easily understood, yet it offers a wide application. It stimulates thinking, and creates challenges in improving human relationship. Thus it is a good material for workshops on values, social studies, literature, and in retreat and reflection. ~
Psalm of Life
Psalm of Life is the perhaps the most important poem written by America's darling poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The poem is among the world's most quoted and recited pieces of literature; in fact, it is a prayer by and in itself. It speaks of universal values, feelings and compassion, of valor and sacrifice, and of victory over ones own battle.
Longfellow himself, a victim of a family tragedy, rose to further fame and dignity. After the death of his wife in an accidental fire he went on raising his young children, and teaching in the university, experimenting with new forms and styles of poetry, producing Hiawatha and Evangeline that revolutionized poetry.
I found a very old publication, Longfellow's Evangeline (copyright 1883)with the author's biographical sketch. In describing Longfellow's trial in life, allow me to quote, "More than a score of years remained with the poet, and he had the love of his children and the comfort of his work, but the grief was so deep and lasting that he could not trust himself to speak the beloved name of his wife."
From sorrow rises a great triumph, and this is the testimony to greatness - to share not how the world should end, but how it must begin again. Not how one closes himself in, but opens himself to others. Not to "Go Gentle into the Night", but stand sentry to the "Light of Dawn".
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us further than today.
Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle,
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no future, how'ver pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act - act in the living present!
Heart within, and Good o'erhead.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait. ~