By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882. Kind hearts are the gardens,Kind thoughts are the roots,Kind words are the flowers,Kind deeds are the fruits. Take care of […]
1807-1882. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the most widely known and best-loved American poets of the 19th century. He achieved a level of national and international prominence previously unequaled in the literary history of the United States and is one of the few American writers honored in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey—in fact, he is believed to be the first as his bust was installed there in 1884. Poems such as “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847), and “A Psalm of Life” were mainstays of primary and secondary school curricula, long remembered by generations of readers who studied them as children. Longfellow’s achievements in fictional and nonfictional prose, in a striking variety of poetic forms and modes, and in translation from many European languages resulted in a remarkably productive and influential literary career. His celebrity in his own time, however, has yielded to changing literary tastes and to reactions against the genteel tradition of authorship he represented. Even if time has proved him something less than the master poet he never claimed to be, Longfellow made pioneering contributions to American literary life by exemplifying the possibility of a successful authorial career, by linking American poetry to European traditions beyond England, and by developing a surprisingly wide readership for Romantic poetry.