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National Endowment for the Arts 



Henry Wadsworth 





Henry Wadsworth 




A great nation 
deserves great art. 


The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting 
excellence in the arts — both new and established — bringing the arts to all Americans, 
and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an 
independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest 
annual hinder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner 
cities, and military bases. 

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary 
organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked 
on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences. 


Published by 

National Endowment for the Arts 
1 1 00 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20506-0001 
(202) 682-5400 


Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. 

Gioia, Dana. "On 'Paul Reveres Ride' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow." © 1998 
Used with permission of the author. 

Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia, eds. An Introduction to Poetry, 1 1th edition. New York: Pearson/ 
Longman, 2005. 

Irmscher, Christoph. Longfellow Redux. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006. 

— . Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200. Harvard Library Bulletin, Vol. 1 7: 
Num. 3-4. Fall-Winter 2006. 

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings. Ed. J.D. 
McClatchy. New York Library of America, 2000. 


David Kipen, NEA Director of Literature, National Reading Initiatives 

Sarah Bainter Cunningham, PhD, NEA Director of Arts Education 

Writers: Dana Gioia and Erika Koss for the National Endowment for the Arts; "Longfellow's 
The Song of Hiawatha" handout by Charles C. Calhoun 

Editors: Molly Thomas-Hicks and Dan Brady for the National Endowment for the Arts 

Graphic Design: Fletcher Design/Washington, DC 

Image Credits 

Cover Portrait: John Sherffius for the Big Read. Page iv: Courtesy of the Library of Congress. 
Page 1: Dana Gioia, image by Vance Jacobs; John Barr, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation. 
Inside back coven Courtesy of the Longfellow National Historic Site. 

Table of Contents 

Introduction 1 

Suggested Teaching Schedule 2 

Lesson One: Word Choice and the Value of a Dictionary 4 

Lesson Two: Biographical Criticism 

and the Speaker of a Poem 5 

Lesson Three: The Sonnet 6 

Lesson Four: Figurative Language 7 

Lesson Five: Form, Rhythm, and Meter 8 

Lesson Six: Allusions 9 

Lesson Seven: Narrative Poetry, Meter, and Voice 10 

Lesson Eight: Narrative Poetry and Characters 1 1 

Lesson Nine: Analyzing a Poem's Context 12 

Lesson Ten: What Makes a Great Poet? 13 

Essay Topics 14 

Glossary of Poetic Terms Used in the Lessons 15 

Handout One: Longfellow and Mukiculturalism 16 

Handout Two: The Landlord's Tale: "Paul Reveres Ride" 17 

Handout Three: Longfellow's The Song of Hum Httha 18 

Teaching Resources p) 

NCTE Standards 20 


When the summer fields are mown, 
When the birds are fledged and flown, 

And the dry leaves strew the path; 
With the falling of the snow, 
With the cawing of the crow, 
Once again the fields we mow 

And gather in the aftermath. 

Not the sweet, new grass with flowers 
Is this harvesting of ours; 

Not the upland clover bloom; 
But the rowen mixed with weeds, 
Tangled tufts from marsh and meads, 
Where the poppy drops its seeds 

In the silence and the gloom. 


» . 



National En 

miViiiHii *itT#JiTl 




Welcome to The Big Read, an initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts. 
Designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American culture, The Big Read 
hopes to unite communities through great literature, as well as inspire students to 
become lifelong readers. 

It is especially appropriate The Big Read includes poetry for the first time by 
honoring Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's foremost and best-loved 
nineteenth-century poets. The National Endowment for the Arts joins the Poetry 
Foundation to create this new program to celebrate great American poets and the 
historic sites associated with their lives and works. By celebrating poets and their 
literary landmarks, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation not only bring poetry to a 
broader audience, but also help preserve and promote local heritage and history. 

This Teacher's Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow's poetry. Longfellow was not only a major American poet, but he 
was also one of the most influential figures in our national cultural history. In 
unforgettable poetic language that appealed to millions of readers across all classes, 
he helped create many of the songs, stories, characters, and images by which the 
young United States knew itself. 

Each lesson has five components: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing 
exercises, vocabulary words, and homework assignments. In addition, we have 
suggested essay topics, as well as handouts with more background information 
about the poems, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the 
state language arts standards required in the poetry genre. 

Finally, The Big Read Reader's Guide deepens your exploration with booklists, 
timelines, and historical information. We hope these educational materials allow 
you to have fun with your students while introducing them to the work of a great 
American poet. 

From the NEA and Poetry Foundation, we wish you an exciting and productive 

school year. 

Dana Gioia 


National Endowment for the Arts 


V&a V>c^- 

John Barr 
Poetry Foundation 

National Endowment tor the \rt>< 



Day One 

FOCUS: Word Choice and the 
Value of a Dictionary 

Activities: Discuss the careful, studied choices 
poets make when selecting words and the value of 
understanding a word's various meanings. Look up 
words in the poem "Aftermath." Write an essay 
explaining the poem's literal and symbolic meanings. 

Homework: From the Reader's Guide, read 
Longfellow's biography and timeline (pp. 4-6) and 
"Longfellow's Ballads and Lyric Poetry" (pp. 8-9). 
Read Longfellow's sonnet "Mezzo Cammin." 


Day Two 

FOCUS: Biographical Criticism and the 
Speaker of a Poem 

Activities: Discuss the ways an understanding of 
Longfellow's life enriches the reader's appreciation 
of the poem, "Mezzo Cammin." Write an essay 
reflecting on how these biographical details help us 
understand the poem's imagery and themes. 

Homework: Read Longfellow's sonnet "The Cross 
of Snow." 


Day Three 

FOCUS: The Sonnet 

Activities: Discuss the structure of an Italian sonnet 
compared to that of an English sonnet Write an essay 
on how the sonnet form adds meaning to "The Cross 
of Snow," or have students re-write the poem using 
another poetic form. 

Homework: Read Reader's Guide essays 
"Introduction to Longfellow's Poetry" (p. 3) and 
"Longfellow and Other Arts" (p. 14). Read "The 
Children's Hour" and "The Bells of San Bias." 


Day Four 

FOCUS: Figurative Language 

Activities: Discuss ways Longfellow employs simile, 
metaphor, and personification. List the words in "The 
Children's Hour" associated with a castle invasion. 
Write two paragraphs on how a full understanding 
of the poem depends on the reader noticing both its 
literal and figurative qualities. 

Homework Read "A Psalm of Life" and "The Wreck 
of the Hesperus." 


Longfellow's poems are in the public domain, and 
free to print from the Poetry Foundation's web site: Go to the Poetry Tool, 
and search by the poet's name or each poem's tide. 

Day Five 

FOCUS: Form, Rhythm, and Meter 

Activities: Discuss form and meter. Practice scansion. 
Write an essay that examines contemporary songs 
and how they employ meter, rhyme, and rhythm. 

Homework Read "The Jewish Cemetery at 
Newport" and "My Lost Youth." 


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Day Six 

FOCUS: Allusions 

Activities: Examine important allusions in Longfellow's 
poetry. Write an essay on how knowledge of 
Longfellow's allusions can change the reader's 
understanding of "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" 

Homework: Read Evangeline s prologue and Part 
the First. List the characters and some of their 
important traits. 


Day Seven 

FOCUS: Narrative Poetry, Meter, and Voice 

Activities: Discuss the tradition of narrative poetry. 
Examine unrhymed dactylic hexameter and scan 
several lines of the prologue to Evangeline. Write a 
short essay on Longfellow's use of the narrative form. 

Homework: Read Evangeline, Part the Second and 
Handout One, "Longfellow and Multiculturalism." 
Trace Evangeline's journey across America. 


Day Eight 

FOCUS: Narrative Poetry and Characters 

Activities: Discuss Evangeline's quest to find Gabriel. In 
groups, discuss the places Evangeline travels and how 
these places influence the reader's understanding of 
the poem. Write an essay on Evangeline's character. 

Homework: Read the Reader's Guide essay 
"Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn" (pp. 12-13) and 
Handout Two. "The Landlord's Tale: 'Paul Revere's 
Ride'." Read the prelude to Tales of a Wayside Inn, The 
Landlord's Tale, "Paul Revere's Ride;" and Tlie Poet's 
Tale, "The Birds of Killingworth." 

Day Nine 

FOCUS: Analyzing a Poem's Context 

Activities: Discuss the historical and social context 
of "Paul Revere's Ride." Write a short essay on how 
the bird in "The Birds of Killingworth" might be 
historically significant and symbolic. 

Homework: Read the Finale of Tales of a Wayside Inn. 


Day Ten 

FOCUS: What Makes a Great Poet> 

Activities: Explore the qualities of a great poet. 
Discuss what Longfellow's poetry can teach us about 
the concerns of his generation. Write an essay 
illustrating a central theme in Longfellow's poetry. 

Homework: Read Handout Three. "Longfellow's 
The Song of Hiawatha." Write a paragraph about 
Longfellow's legacy in the twenty-first century. 

National Endowment tor tin 


Lesson One 


and the 
Value of a 


From "Aftermath": 

Aftermath, n. 

1. A consequence, especially of 
a disaster 

2. A second growth in the 
same season 

Fledged, v. intr. 

To grow the plumage needed 

for flight 

Rowen, n. 

A second growth of grass or hay 
in a season 

Tufts , n. plural 

A short cluster of elongated 

strands, as of yarn, hair, or grass 

Mead, n. 

A meadow 

Begin each day's lesson by reading the poem aloud in class. 

Before a poem can be appreciated for its deeper meanings, it must first be 
read literally. We often overlook words we can already define. Ralph Waldo 
Emerson wrote in Nature, "Every word. . .if traced to its root, is found to 
be borrowed from some material appearance. Right means straight, wrong 
means twisted. Spirit primarily means wind', transgression, the crossing of 
a line; supercilious, the raising of the eyebrow." Students should even look 
up words that are commonly understood to understand better the careful, 
conscious choices poets make. To develop your students' vocabulary, several 
words from each lesson's assigned poems are already defined in the color 
margins of this Teacher's Guide. 

Discussion Activities 

On the surface, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Aftermath," published 
in 1873, might seem simple and straightforward. However, much of its total 
effect depends on a reader's knowing the literal — and in some cases, archaic — 
meanings of a few words. Here, the most crucial word to understand is the 
title. Like many seemingly abstract words, aftermath was originally a concrete 
descriptive term that referred to the usually meager second growth of crop 
in a field that had already been mowed that season — "math" being a word for 
mowing that is rarely used today. 

The poem "Aftermath" describes this activity of mowing the second growth in a 
winter field, but Longfellow's treatment suggests symbolic interpretations as well. 
He does not specify this subtext, so a reader can project his or her own meaning 
into the poem. Longfellow's insight, though, is painfully clear: to revisit a scene of 
the past can be devastating. 

Define and discuss the meanings of several words in "Aftermath" (including, but 
not limited to, the words in the column on the left). How does knowing the 
exact meaning of these words add to both your literal and symbolic readings of 
Longfellow's poem? 

Writing Exercise 

After reading the poem once, write a one-page essay explaining the poem's 
meaning. Read the poem a second time with a focus on understanding the 
meaning of one or two terms in the poem. Write a one-page essay to explain 
how those terms are relevant to the meaning of the poem. Does it change your 
first reading? Does it deepen your understanding of the poem? 

23 Homework 


From the Reader's Guide, read Longfellow's biography and timeline (pp. 4-6) and 
"Longfellow's Ballads and Lyric Poetry" (pp. 8-9). Then read Longfellow's sonnet 
"Mezzo Cammin." 

Some of this lesson's content is taken from An Introduction to Poetry, eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, I Ith 
edition, and its accompanying instructor's manual. 

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and the 
Speaker of 
a Poem 


From "Mezzo Cammin": 

Parapet, n. 

1. A low protective wall along 
the edge of a raised structure 

2. An earthen embankment 
protecting soldiers 

Indolence, n. 

Habitual laziness; sloth 

Blast, n. 

1. A very strong gust of wind 

2. A violent explosion 

3. A sudden, loud sound 

Cataract, n. 

I A descent of water over a 
steep surface; a waterfall 
2. Any furious rush of water 

Examining an author's life can inform and expand a literary text. 
Biographical criticism is the practice of analyzing a literary work through 
the lens of an author's experience. Some poems depend on a reader's 
knowledge of biographical facts. However, readers should be careful not to 
assume that the speaker of a poem is necessarily the poet. When we read 
a poem, one of our first questions should be: whose "voice" is speaking to 
us? Sometimes a poet will create a persona, a fictitious speaker. This speaker 
may not always be human. A speaker may be an animal or object, and good 
poems have been written from perspectives as various as a hawk, a clock, or 
a cloud. 

Discussion Activities 

Longfellow's sonnet "Mezzo Cammin" — a poem he wrote at age 35 but never 
published during his lifetime — is especially suited to biographical criticism. In the 
opening lines, the poet laments that he has not fulfilled "the aspiration of [his] 
youth" — which, for Longfellow, was nothing less than to create verse that would 
become as immortal as Shakespeare's. The second quatrain explains this failed 
ambition was not because of "indolence," a pursuit of "pleasure," or "the fret / Of 
restless passions," but because of "sorrow, and a care that almost killed." 

The key biographical question of the sonnet is: What caused this sorrow? At the 
beginning of 1835, Longfellow had just received a desirable new professorship 
at Harvard, and his beloved wife, Mary, was expecting their first child. Together 
they traveled to Scandinavia and Holland, where he studied Swedish, Finnish, Old 
Icelandic, and Dutch. But on this trip, Mary suffered a miscarriage, and a resulting 
infection led to her death. Longfellow was devastated. Several months later, he 
wrote in a letter: "I have a void in my heart — a constant feeling of sorrow and 
bereavement, and utter loneliness." 

Q Writing Exercise 

Examine the last six lines. Write a paragraph answer for each question: Why 
might Longfellow capitalize "Past." comparing it to a city? How does he describe 
this city? Does this city relate to Longfellow's life 7 What does Longfellow suggest 
by closing his sonnet with the strong image of Death "thundering from the 
heights"? Conclude with one paragraph on how biographical details shed insight 
on poems, using Longfellow as an example. 

C3 Homework 

Read Longfellow's sonnet "The Cross of Snow." What is the cross on his breast, 
and what does it have to do with "the face of one long dead" ; 

National l-ndo\\nicnt tor tin 



The Sonnet 


From "The Cross of Snow": 

Martyrdom, n. 

Extreme suffering for a cause 

Repose, n. 

A state of restfulness 

Benedight, adj. 

In the poetry of western Europe and America, the sonnet has attracted 
more noteworthy poets than any other fixed form. A sonnet is a fourteen- 
lined poem with a prescribed rhyme scheme and specific structure. 
Originally an Italian form {sonnetto: "little song"), the sonnet owes much 
of its prestige to Petrarch (1304-1374), who often wrote about his love 
for the unattainable Laura. Soon after English poets imported the sonnet 
in the middle of the sixteenth century, they worked out their own rhyme 
scheme — one easier for them to follow than Petrarch's — often called the 
English, or Shakespearean, sonnet. 

Discussion Activities 

A posthumously published sonnet, "The Cross of Snow" centers upon a beloved 
woman who has died. One might assume this sonnet refers to the death of 
Longfellow's first wife — as "Mezzo Cammin" does — except for two phrases: 
"here in this room she died" and "these eighteen years." Mary died in a hotel 
in Holland, but his second wife and the mother of their six children, Fanny 
Appleton, died from a fire in their Massachusetts home, Craigie House, in 1861. 
Longfellow's failed attempt to save Fanny, as well as her horrific death, absolutely 
incapacitated him. He wrote "The Cross of Snow" on July 10, 1879, exactly 
18 years after her death. The poet never remarried, and remained devoted to 
poetry and to their five children (one daughter died as an infant) until the end of 
his life in 1882. 

"Mezzo Cammin" and "The Cross of Snow" are both Italian sonnets, also known 
as Petrarchan sonnets. This kind of sonnet follows the rhyme scheme abba, 
a b b a in the octave, or first eight lines. The sestet, or last six lines, adds new 
rhyme sounds in various patterns. It may rhyme cdcdcd, cdecde, cdccdc 
or in almost any other variation that doesn't end in a couplet. This two-part 
organization helps the poet organize the poem's argument or ideas. For example, 
the octave will often state the problem, and the sestet may offer a resolution. 
Often a turn comes in line 9 that may or may not be solved by line 14. Ask your 
students to identify each sonnet's turn. This is one way to trace a sonnet's main 
idea as it moves through the octave to the sestet. 

Writing Exercise 

Write a one-page essay on how the sonnet form lends meaning to the poem 
"The Cross of Snow." Or, if you have covered other poetic forms in your class, 
have students re-write the poem using another poetic form. Does this allow 
students to understand the ideal use of the sonnet form? Why or why not? 

23 Homework 

Read "Introduction to Longfellow's Poetry" (p. 3) and "Longfellow and Other 
Arts" (pp. 14-15) from the Reader's Guide. Then read two of Longfellow's 
ballads, "The Children's Hour" and "The Bells of San Bias." Pay attention to each 
poem's literal meanings. 


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Lesson Four 



Poets use figurative language to help the reader visualize arid experience 
the events and emotions described in the poem. Imagery, a word or series 
of words that refers to any sensory experience (sight, sound, smell, touch, 
or taste), helps create a visceral experience for the reader. Some figurative 
language asks us to stretch our imaginations, finding the likeness in 
seemingly unrelated things. A simile is a comparison between two things 
that initially seem quite different, but are shown to have a significant 
resemblance. Similes employ a connective, usually "like," "as," or "than, or 
a verb such as "resembles." A metaphor states that one thing is something 
else in order to extend and expand the meaning of one of those objects. Bv 
asserting that a thing is something else, metaphors create a close association 
that underscores some important similarity. Personification is a figure of 
speech in which a thing, an animal, or an abstract term (truth, death, the 
past) takes on human qualities. 


From "The Children s Hour": 

Turret, n. 

1. A tower-shaped projection on a 

2. A tall wooden structure mounted 
on wheels used in ancient 
warfare to scale an enemy 

Banditti, n. plural 

Robbers, especially members of 

a gang 

Moulder, v. variant ofmolder 
To turn to dust by natural decay 

From "The Bells of Stni Bins": 

Manifold, adj. 

1. Many and varied; of many kinds 

2. Having many features or forms 

Austere, adj. 

1. Severe in disposition 

2. Strict in discipline 

Fervid, adj. 

I Marked by great passion 

2. Extremely hot 

Discussion Activities 

"The Bells of San Bias" was the last poem Longfellow wrote, only a few weeks 
before he died in 1882. When the poet lived in Spain for nine months in 1827. he 
became reasonably fluent in Spanish. He never returned to Spain, nor did he ever 
travel to Mexico, the location of this final poem. Titled after a small fishing village. 
San Bias lies on the Pacific Coast between Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. 

The bells in this poem are certainly literal, singing a "strange, wild melody." 
But what might Longfellow mean when he says they "are something more 
than a name"? How might the bells also be interpreted as a metaphor for 
the past? Summarize each stanza of this poem as a class, noticing each image, 
metaphor, simile, or use of personification. As a class, identify several possible 
interpretations of the poem's final lines: "The Past is deaf to your prayer; / Out of 
the shadows of night / The world rolls into light; / It is daybreak everywhere." 

^ Writing Exercise 

The playful ballad "The Children's Hour" expresses Longfellow's affection for his 
three young daughters: Alice, Anne Allegra. and Edith. At what point in the poem 
does Longfellow begin to compare his study to a castle wall and his children to 
"banditti" who invade his territory' List all the words in the poem associated 
with a castle invasion. Write two paragraphs that explain how a full appreciation 
of the poem depends on noticing both its literal and figurative qualities 

r] Homework 

Read "A Psalm of Life" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus ." Pay attention to the 
tone and message of "A Psalm of Life." Summarize the plot of the dramatic story 
told in "The Wreck of the Hesperus." How might the father be held responsible 
for his daughter's death' 

National 1 tulowmcnt tor the 


Lesson Five 



Rhythm, and 


From "A Psalm of Life": 

Bivouac, n. 

A temporary encampment 

Sublime, adj. 

1. Of high spiritual, moral, or 
intellectual worth 

2. Awe-inspiring 

Main, n. 

The open ocean; high sea 

From "The Wreck of the 

Schooner, n. 

A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel 
having at least two masts, the 
foremast of which is smallest 

Helm, n. 

The steering gear of a ship 

Brine, n. 

1 . The water of a sea or ocean 

2. A large body of salt water 

Smote, v. past tense of "smite" 

1. To inflict a heavy blow on 

2. To afflict retributively 

Poems may be written infixed forms — traditional verse forms that require 
certain predetermined structural elements of meter, rhythm, and rhyme, such 
as a sonnet (Lesson Three) or a ballad. Not all poets write in form or meter, 
but all poets employ rhythm. Scansion is the art of listening carefully to 
the sounds of a poem and trying to make sense of it. This includes paying 
attention to each poetic foot, each stressed or unstressed syllable, and — if 
applicable — the poem's rhyme scheme. Most nineteenth-century poets, 
including Longfellow, wrote primarily in fixed forms with identifiable 
meters. Originally an oral verse form, ballads are often dramatic in their 
subject matter and compressed in their narrative style. 

Discussion Activities 

When writing a ballad, a poet may employ many metrical variations and patterns 
of rhyme. Ask students to compare the meter and rhyme of two ballads: "A 
Psalm of Life" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus." In groups, ask students to scan 
one whole poem, noting each line's stressed and unstressed syllables. How does 
scanning a poem help students understand its meaning, especially where a poet 
wishes to place emphasis? 

When scanning a poem, use an accent (') over each stressed syllable and a breve, 
or "little round cup" (~), over each unstressed syllable. Here are two examples: 

w / \^ 

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, 
Life is but an empty dream! — 

-from "A Psalm of Life" 

/ w 

/ \s / 

It was the schooner Hesperus, a 

That sailed the wintry sea; b 

And the skipper had taken his little daughter, c 

To bear him company. 

-from "The Wreck of the Hesperus' 

Writing Exercise 

Consider contemporary songs that you know. By scanning your favorite lines 
explain how the writer employs meter, rhyme, and rhythm and explain how and 
why the chosen rhythms might make the songs more effective. 

[J] Homework 

Read "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" and "My Lost Youth." Look up at least 
three words and try to find a definition that makes sense in light of the poem's 


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Lesson Six 



From "The Jewish Cemetery 
at Newport ": 

Sepulchral, adj. 

Of or relating to a burial vault 

Mirk, n. archaic spelling of "murk" 
Darkness or gloom 

Anathema, n. 

A vehement denunciation 

Maranatha, n. Aramaic 

An invocation meaning, "O Lord. 


Travail, n. 

Tribulation or agony; anguish 

From "My Lost Youth ": 

Wharves, n. plural of "wharf 
A landing place where ships may 
tie up 

Slips, n. plural 

A docking place for a ship between 

two piers 

Bulwarks, n. plural 

A wall or embankment raised as a 

defensive fortification 

Pallor, n. 

Unnatural paleness 

Poems will often make reference to a person, place, or thing that might 
be unfamiliar or seem out of place at first. These allusions are often brief, 
sometimes indirect, references that imply a shared set of knowledge 
between the poet and the reader. They may appear in a poem as an initial 
quotation, a passing mention of a name, or a phrase borrowed from 
another writer — often carrying the meanings and implications of the 
original. For example, in "The Children's Hour, the "Bishop of Bingen is 
an allusion to a German legend. 

Discussion Activities 

Longfellow's ballad "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" contains so many 
allusions that a student might be tempted to give up. Most of the allusions refer 
to Judaism, the Hebrew language, or Old Testament stories or names. Read the 
poem out loud. Break up your class into four groups, asking each to research the 
highlighted allusions in one of the stanzas indicated below. Then ask each group 
to report its discoveries to the whole class. In light of these literary allusions, 
what is the significance of the poem's final stanza? 

"...the tablets of the Law, thrown down / And broken by Moses at the 
mountain's base." (stanza 3) 

"What persecution, merciless and blind, / Drove o'er the sea — that desert 
desolate — / These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?" (stanza 8) 

"All their lives long, with the unleavened bread / And bitter herbs of 
exile and its fears, / The wasting famine of the heart they fed. / And slaked 
its thirst with marah of their tears." (stanza 10) 

"At every gate the accursed Mordecai / Was mocked and jeered, and 
spurned by Christian feet." (stanza II) 

Wj Writing Exercise 

Using the collective research on the allusions in "The Jewish Cemetery at 
Newport," write a short essay on how Longfellow's allusions broaden the 
meaning of the poem. Be specific by explaining how the meaning has changed 
with your new research. To focus this essay, do further research on one allusion 
and describe how that allusion contributes to our understanding of the poem. 

As an alternative, compare how allusions function in "The Jewish Cemetery at 
Newport" and "My Lost Youth." Does Longfellow use allusions to equal effect in 
both poems? Why or why not? 

[^ Homework 

Read Evangeline's prologue and Part the First (approximately 30 pages) Make a list 
of the poem's characters and their most important character traits 

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Meter, and 


From the prologue of 

Primeval, adj. 

Having existed from the beginning; 

in the earliest state 

Druids, n. 

A member of an order of priests 
in the ancient Celtic religion who 
appear in legend as prophets and 

Disconsolate, adj. 
Seeming beyond consolation 

Roe, n. 

A type of deer 

List, v. 

Archaic: listen, listen to 

Narrative poems tell stories, draw characters and settings, shape plots, and 
engage the reader — qualities that are also important for fiction writers. In 
Western literature, narrative poetry dates back to the Babylonian Epic of 
Gilgamesh (composed about 2000 B.C.) and Homer's epics the ///Wand 
the Odyssey (composed before 700 B.C.). 

Longfellow's four book-length poems — Evangeline: A Tale ofAcadie 
(1847), The Song of Hiawatha (1855), The Courtship of Miles Standish 
(1858), and Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863-73) — established his status as a 
major poet. These narrative poems tell the untold story of a new nation, in 
memorable lines of emotional power and vivid drama. 

Discussion Activities 

Read the Reader's Guide essay on Evangeline aloud with your class (pages 10-11). 
The end of this essay notes that Evangeline is an extraordinary piece of literary 
experimentation because of its meter: unrhymed dactylic hexameter (see glossary). 
For about 500 years, English-language poets had been trying to make this meter 
work in English — the ancient meter in which Homer (Greek) and Virgil (Latin) 
wrote. Notice the scansion of Evangeline's opening lines: 

This is the | forest pri|meval. The | murmuring | pines and the | hemlocks, 

Bearded with | moss, and in | garments green, | indistinct | in the twilight... 

In groups, ask your students to scan several lines from the prologue, paying 
attention to the sounds and words that Longfellow emphasizes. 

Writing Exercise 

Narrated by the "murmuring pines and the hemlocks" and the ocean waves, the 
poem opens with a mystery: where are the people in this seemingly idyllic place 
called Acadie? Write a short essay to explain how Longfellow utilizes narrative 
form to tell this story. Why might Longfellow begin his poem with the cry of the 
forest? What effect does this have on the reader? What does this story convey 
about America? 

2] Homework 

Read Evangeline, Part the Second (approximately 30 pages). Trace Evangeline's 
journey across America as she searches for her beloved fiance, Gabriel. Map 
the specific places across America where she travels. Then read Handout One, 
"Longfellow and Multiculturalism," in this guide. 

I * THE BIG READ National Endowment for the Arts 


Poetry and 

Cultural and historical contexts give rise to dilemmas and themes that can 
act as powerful forces within a literary work. Studying and appreciating the 
details of setting can help readers understand a characters motivations. The 
central character in a work of fiction is allied the protagonist. The protagonist 
usually initiates the main action of the story and often overcomes a flaw 
such as weakness or ignorance to achieve new understanding by the works 
end. The protagonist's journey is enriched by encounters with characters 
with different goals, motives, or beliefs. Often the antagonist opposes the 
protagonist, barring or complicating his or her progress. 

As a character, Evangeline seems like someone out of a m\th or fable. She 
is certainly Longfellow's ideal of a patient, virtuous woman. In a century 
of literature that usually featured a heroic male protagonist, Evangeline s 
strength and determination cannot be underestimated: she searches for her 
beloved Gabriel, and she chooses to hope for his return. 


From Evangeline Part the 
Second, Section 1: 

Dirge, n. 

A funeral hymn 

Sylvan, adj. 

Relating to woods or forests 

Discussion Activities 

Most of the poem describes Evangeline's search for Gabriel, which takes her all 
over America: down the Mississippi River, across the Nebraskan prairie, into 
the Ozark Mountains, through the forests of Michigan, and finally to Louisiana. 
Break your class into groups, asking each to highlight one state or place where 
Evangeline travels. Does the country itself become a character? Students should 
pay attention to Longfellow's use of figurative language in these passages. You 
might give students a blank U.S. map to enhance their understanding of her vast 

^ Writing Exercise 

Write a short essay to describe Evangeline's character. Answer the following 
questions: What aspects of Evangeline's character seem unrealistic' Does she 
have any flaws? What admirable qualities does she possess' What are her 
motivations? Does she learn anything, or grow, by the poem's end? Use specific 
passages to support your answer. 

23 Homework 

Read the Reader's Guide essay "Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn" (pp. 12-13) 
and Handout Two. "The Landlord's Tale: 'Paul Reveres Ride." Also read the 
prelude to Tales of a Wayside Inn and summarize the key attributes of each 
storyteller. Then read The Landlord's Tale. "Paul Reveres Ride' - and Vie Poet's Tale. 
"The Birds of Killingworth " 

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a Poem's 


From "Paul Reveres Ride": 

Belfry, n. 

A bell tower 

Muster, n. 

A gathering of troops 

Sentinel, n. 

One that keeps guard 

Alders, n. 

A type of tree of the genus Alnus 
having alternate simple toothed 
leaves and tiny fruits in woody, 
conelike catkins 

Tales of a Wayside Inn was published in three installments between 1 863 
and 1873. It is often said that the poem is an American retelling of 
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. This long narrative poem begins with a 
prelude that introduces a diverse group of storytellers — a Sicilian political 
refugee, a Spanish Jew, a Norwegian musician, a youthful student, a broad- 
minded theologian, and a tender-hearted poet. It comprises twenty-two 
linked narratives with great variety of theme, meter, and tone. Longfellow's 
tales are diverse also in subject matter, character, and historical reference. 
The interludes between each story provide commentary from the other 
listeners. In this way, the longer poem suggests that the stories we tell are 
reflections of our own thoughts, dreams, and desires. 

Discussion Activities 

Read "Paul Revere's Ride" and the interlude that follows aloud with your class. 
Ask your students to pay attention to the meter's galloping beat. 

Longfellow would not have called himself a political man, but he abhorred slavery 
and opposed the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. He was a lifelong friend of lawyer 
Charles Sumner, the congressman who was physically attacked on the Senate 
floor by South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks after giving an anti-slavery 

Discuss the importance of interpreting this poem's historical context (April 18, 
1775) alongside its 1861 publication in The Atlantic Monthly. Use this opportunity 
to teach your students some details about the Civil War. What ideas or lines 
in "Paul Revere's Ride" suggest that Longfellow might be referring to the Civil 
War? Why might he have set his poem during this earlier period? How might this 
either enhance or hinder any point he might be trying to make about the Civil 

Writing Exercise 

The only original tale in Tales of a Wayside Inn is titled "The Birds of Killingworth." 
Certainly the birds are literal in the story, but there may be several figurative 
interpretations as well. Write a short essay on how Longfellow's use of birds 
might be related to his historical context. What might the birds represent? How 
might Longfellow's original audience have interpreted the birds? How might we 

EJ Homework 

Read the Finale of Tales of a Wayside Inn. 


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Lesson Ten 


What Makes 
a Great 

Poets articulate and explore the mysteries of our daily lives in the context of 
the human struggle. The writer's voice, style, and use of figurative language 
inform the themes and characters of the work. A great poem is a work 
of art that affects many generations of readers, changes lives, challenges 
assumptions, and breaks new ground. 

Discussion Activities 

Ask students to list the characteristics of a great poem. Put these on the board. 
What elevates a poem to greatness? Then ask them to discuss, within groups, 
other poems or songs they know that include some of the same characteristics. 
Do any of these works remind them of any of Longfellow's poetry? 

A great writer can be the voice of a generation. Does Longfellow have a 
consistent voice throughout the poems you have studied? (Make sure to draw 
a distinction between the voice of the poem's narrator and Longfellow's voice.) 
What does this voice tell us about the concerns and dreams of Longfellow's 
generation? How does Longfellow's depiction of the experiences and emotions of 
the common person allow him to be a voice of his generation? 

Writing Exercise 

These ten lessons have highlighted several different kinds of Longfellow poems: 
lyric poems, sonnets, ballads, and narrative poems. Using more than two 
Longfellow poems to support your argument, write a short essay to illustrate 
how a central theme emerges in Longfellow's work. Explain the theme in detail, 
referring to specific lines to support your argument. Which poem illustrates the 
theme most effectively and why? 

23 Homework 

Read Handout Three, "Longfellow's The Song ofHiawatlia". Write a paragraph 
in response to this question: What would you say is Longfellow's legacy in the 
twenty-first century' 

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The writing exercises in this guide provide you with possible essay topics, as do the six Discussion 
Questions in the Reader's Guide. Advanced students can come up with their own essay topics, as 
long as they are interesting and specific. Other ideas for essays are provided below. 

For essays, students should organize their ideas around a thesis — that is, an argument or 
interpretation — about the poem or poems in question. This statement or thesis should be focused, 
with clear reasons to support its conclusion. The thesis and supporting evidence should be backed 
by references to the text. 

1 . Some of Longfellow's poetry contains allusions 
to his life, but Longfellow remained skeptical 
of poetry as a vehicle for self-revelation and of 
poems written in first-person. In a letter, he 
once called "I" the "objectionable pronoun." 
Explain why Longfellow might make this 
statement. In your essay, determine whether 
Longfellow's poems are or are not biographical. 
If you believe they are biographical, explain 
how Longfellow might defend his statement 

2. The sonnets "Mezzo Cammin" and "The 
Cross of Snow" end with images of darkness 
and ambiguity — atypical characteristics for 
Longfellow's poetry. In "Mezzo Cammin," how 
does the image of a journey convey the poem's 
main idea? In "The Cross of Snow," how does 
the image of a cross convey his lasting anguish? 
Using these examples, explain how images 
enhance meaning. 

3. Evangeline tells the true story of a dispossessed 
people. Biographer Charles C. Calhoun 
suggests that the reunion between Evangeline 
and Gabriel "stands for the bringing together 
of all the scattered Acadians — indeed, of all 
exiled peoples." Do you agree or disagree with 
this statement? How relevant does Evangeline 

remain when compared with twentieth- and 
twenty-first century examples of racial and 
religious persecution? Support your twentieth- 
and twenty-first century examples by citing 
research and valid sources. 

4. The poet W.H. Auden said that "poetry makes 
nothing happen." Research the popularity, 
historic significance, and lasting cultural impact 
of Longfellow's narrative poem Evangeline. 

In the case of Longfellow's Evangeline, is 
Auden's idea proved false? How important 
are the Evangeline statues in Nova Scotia and 
Louisiana? Use your answers to write an essay 
about Longfellow's influence on culture and 

5. Longfellow biographer Charles C. Calhoun 
describes "The Birds of Killingworth" as "one 
of Longfellow's most Unitarian works" because 
"its satire on Connecticut religious orthodoxy 
still had considerable bite in the 1860s, despite 
its colonial setting." Consider the poem's 
religious context Is Longfellow making fun of, 
supporting, or arguing with the clergy in this 


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A glossary of some of the poetic terms used in the lessons is listed below. 

Allusion: A brief, sometimes indirect reference in a 
text to a person, place, or thing 

Antagonist A character or force in a work of 
fiction that opposes the protagonist and tries to 
bar or complicate his or her progress 

Ballads: Narrative poems that may be sung. 
Originally an oral verse form, ballads were 
traditionally passed from performer to performer 
without being written down. 

Dactyl: A metrical foot of verse in which one 
stressed syllable is followed by two unstressed 
syllables (e.g., tur-bu-lent or Ga-bri-el). It often 
appears in children's songs and nursery rhymes, 
as in "Hickory dickory dock." Evangeline is an 
example of a poem written in dactylic hexameter. 

Fixed forms: A traditional verse form that requires 
certain predetermined structural elements of 
meter, rhythm, and rhyme, such as a sonnet or 
a ballad 

Foot The basic unit of measurement in poetry. 
Different meters are identified by the pattern 
and order of stressed and unstressed syllables 
in its foot. A foot can be two or three syllables, 
depending on the meter. 

Hexameter: A verse meter consisting of six 
metrical feet, or six primary stresses, per line 

Meter: A systematic rhythmic pattern of stresses 
in verse 

Persona: A fictitious speaker created by the poet 

Protagonist The central character in a work 
of fiction who usually initiates the main action 
of the story and often overcomes a flaw such 
as weakness or ignorance to achieve new 
understanding by the work's end 

Quatrain: A stanza consisting of four lines of verse 

Rhythm: The pattern of stresses and pauses in a 

Rhyme scheme: The pattern of rhyme in an 
individual poem or a fixed form, a rhyme scheme 
is transcribed with small letters representing 
each end rhyme — a for the first rhyme, b for the 
second, and so on. 

Scansion: A method of studying verse that 
measures rhythms in a poem, scansion separates 
the metrical feet, counts the syllables, marks the 
accented ones, and indicates the pauses. Scansion 
helps the reader understand the poet's handling 
of rhythm, verse length, and sound. 

Stanza: A unit of two or more lines of verse 
with space breaks before and after, the stanza is 
poetry's equivalent to a paragraph in prose. 

Stress (or accent): A greater amount of force 
given to one syllable in speaking than is given to 

Tetrameter: A verse meter consisting of four- 
metrical feet, or four primary stresses, per line 
The Song of Hiawatlia is an example of a poem 
written in trochaic tetrameter. 

Trochee: A metrical foot of verse in which one 
stressed syllable is followed by one unstressed 

*AII literary definitions, both here and in the lessons, are taken from An Introduction to Poetry (I Ith edit»on). edited by X J Kennedy ar»d Dana 
Gioia. or Handbook of Uterary Terms, edited by X J Kennedy. Dana doia. and Mark ftauertem (2005) 

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Longfellow and Multiculturalism 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would not have 
used the word multicultural to describe himself, 
but there is, perhaps, no other American poet who 
deserves this adjective more than he. 

As a young man studying for his first university 
position, Longfellow was immersed in European 
languages and literature, including classic Greek 
and Latin. But after several long trips to Europe, 
he realized that America was an extraordinarily 
diverse country that was being populated by 
thousands of new immigrants, who brought with 
them different languages, histories, and religions. 
Longfellow knew that any account of what it 
means to be American would have to include these 
various groups. This sweeping international vision 
is evident throughout his life's work. 

Longfellow began his literary career as a translator 
of an astonishing range of poetry. He had a deep 
knowledge of poetic forms, meter, and European 
literature. His 1839 poetic debut, Voices of the 
Night, announced his mastery of European poetic 
traditions, as it contained more than twenty 
translations from Spanish, French, German, and 
Danish. He could speak and read eight languages, 
and he could fluently read at least four more. He 
continued to translate verse until his death, most 
notably as the first American to translate Dante's 
The Divine Comedy. 

What is often overlooked is Longfellow's 
originality as an anthologist. At a time when 
reading world literature was not a popular 
American interest, Longfellow began collecting, 
editing, and publishing a 31 -volume set of poetry 
called Poems of Places (1876-79). In arranging 
each small volume by country, he created a kind 
of poetic travelogue. For example, if you wanted 

to travel to Italy, you had three volumes from 
which to choose. Places he never went — such as 
Russia and Africa — got one volume each; even 
Polynesia and Afghanistan were included. In a 
radical editorial choice for the nineteenth century, 
poems by women were included alongside poems 
by men — rather than appearing in a separate 
anthology, or, as would have been expected, not 
appearing at all. 

Throughout his narrative poetry, Longfellow 
explored a wide range of American experiences. 
With The Song of Hiawatha (1855), Longfellow 
became the first writer in English to borrow 
Native American legends and folklore respectfully. 
In Evangeline: A Tale ofAcadie (1847), he 
remembers — when America had all but 
forgotten — that the Louisiana Cajuns were once 
the Acadians from Nova Scotia before the British 
Empire dispossessed them of their land. And Tales 
of a Wayside Inn ( 1 863-73) comprises a full cast 
of international characters, including a Norwegian 
musician, a Spanish Jew, and a Sicilian teacher. 

Longfellow's subjects are not Greek gods, medieval 
knights, or upper-class ladies. In poems such as 
"The Village Blacksmith," Longfellow portrays 
ordinary people with dignity. His friend Charles 
Dickens inspired him to write a collection of 
abolitionist poems, Poems on Slavery (1842), 
long before the abolitionist movement gained 
prominence in America. Longfellow is not only 
pan of American literature, he helped craft the 
narrative of American history. 

16 * THE BIG READ National Endowment for the Arts 


The Landlord's Tale: "Paul Revere's Ride" 

"Paul Reveres Ride" depicts a complicated 
historical incident embedded in the politics of 
Revolutionary America and retells it with narrative 
clarity, emotional power, and masterful pacing. 
From the poem's first publication, historians have 
complained that Longfellow distorted the actual 
incident. But Longfellow's goal was not scholarly 
precision; he wanted to create a stirring patriotic 
myth. He took Paul Revere, a regional folk hero 
hardly known outside Massachusetts, and made 
him a national icon. The new Revere became the 
symbolic figure who awakens America to fight for 

Longfellow was a master of narrative pacing. His 
description of Revere's friend climbing the Old 
North Church tower displays the poet's ability to 
make each moment matter. By slowing down die 
plot here, Longfellow builds suspense and adds 
evocative physical details that heighten the moods. 
(Decides later Hollywood would discover the same 
procedures.) Reaching the belfry, the friend startles 
"the pigeons from their perch. [Tie man pauses 
to look down .it the church graveyard — an image 
that prefigures the deadly battle to be fought the 
next day. This lyric moment of reflection provides 
a false sense of calm before the explosive action that 
will follow. 

The historical Revere was one of main riders, 

but Longfellow understood the powerful appeal 
of the single heroic individual who makes .1 
decisive impact — another narrative lesson not 
lost on Hollywood. Longfellow's Revere is not a 
revolutionary organizer; he is a man ol action. \s 
SOOIl as he sees the first lantern, he springs into the 
saddle, though he is sman enough to wail foi the 
Second light before he rides off. 

Longfellow's galloping triple meters create a 
thrilling sense of speed, and the rhetorical device 
of stating the time of night when Revere enters 
each village adds a cumulative feeling of the rider's 
urgency. The last two stanzas also demonstrate 
Longfellow's narrative authority. As the poet makes 
the sudden but clear transition from Revere's arrival 
in the town of Concord to the following day's 
conflict, Longfellow masterfully summarizes the 
Battle of Concord in onlv ciciht lines, and he asks 
the listener to collaborate in completing the story. 

The final stanza returns to the image of Revere 
riding through the night. By this time, the 
galloping Revere acquires an overtry symbolic 
quality. He has become a timeless emblem 
of American courage and independence. I he 
relevance of this patriotic symbol would not haw 
been lost on Longfellow's original audience in 
1861 — the mostly New England Yankee readers ot 
the Boston-based The Atlantic Monthly. Longfellow 
mvthologi/es the Revolutionary \\ ar, but his 
poem addresses a more immediate crisis the 
impending break-up of the Union. Published 
a few months before the ( Confederate on 
Fort Sumter initiated America's bloodiest war. 
"Paul Revere's Rule 1 ongtcllow S reminder 
to New Lnglaiuleis ol the courage then ana 
demonstrated in forming the Union. The authoi 
intentions were overtly political to build public 
resolve to fight slavery and protect the I nion — but 
he embodied his message in .1 poem compellingly 
told m purely narrative terms. 

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Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha 

Encouraged by the remarkable success of 
Evangeline, Longfellow set out in the early 1850s 
to write another long narrative poem. This time 
he turned to an obvious epic subject for any 
North American writer — the legends and tales of 
the Native Americans who had first settled the 

Growing up in Maine in the 1820s, Longfellow 
met some of the few Native Americans who 
had survived there, and as a Harvard professor 
he talked with the young Ojibway writer and 
preacher Kah-ge-ge-gah-bowh (also known as 
George Copway), who visited Boston in 1849. 
While Native American languages fascinated 
Longfellow, his view was similar to many of his 
white contemporaries: the tribal peoples were a 
vanishing race soon to disappear or be absorbed 
into the dominant white society. As a keen student 
of national epics, he was determined to preserve 
"the ballads of a people" before they became lost 

Longfellow had recently discovered the national 
epic of Finland, the Kalevala, and he borrowed 
some of its subject matter and its distinctive 
meter — the famous "tom-tom" beat or, to use the 
technical term, trochaic tetrameter. In his reading 
about Native Americans in Michigan, the poet 
was especially intrigued by the Ojibway hero 
Manabozho, a shaman-trickster figure, whom 
he reshaped into a more sympathetic and peace- 
loving hero. Longfellow gave him the name of 
an Iroquois lawmaker, Hiawatha — a name that 
would soon be world-famous (though few readers 
of the poem here or abroad followed Longfellow's 
suggestion that it should be pronounced "Hee-a- 

The 22 cantos, or books, of Hiawatha's song tell 
the story of the childhood and young adulthood 
of a god-like hero — strong enough to wresde 
monsters and demons, gentle enough to woo 
and win the beautiful maiden Minnehaha. 
(Her name, says the poet, means "Laughing 
Water," and you can still visit "her" waterfall in 
Minneapolis, Minnesota, today.) Raised by his 
grandmother Nokomis, the young Hiawatha 
learns the ways of the world from forest animals, 
then teaches his own people to plant corn and 
establish a civilization. Most important, he teaches 
them picture-writing, so that memory of their 
accomplishments will never fade. 

The final cantos of the poem grow darker and 
darker. (By 1855 — the poem's publication date — 
Longfellow was deeply troubled with the growing 
sectional strife over slavery that would soon lead 
to the Civil War.) Famine strikes Hiawatha's 
people, Minnehaha dies, and soon the "Black 
Robes" (Catholic French Canadian priests) appear, 
marking the end of Hiawatha's culture. He paddles 
his canoe into the sunset and disappears. 

The Song of Hiawatha became instantly famous, 
eventually the best-selling long poem in 
American literature. It was a favorite recitation 
piece for several generations of Americans, and 
it inspired public festivals, songs, symphonies, 
cantatas, paintings, cartoons, and commercial 
advertisements. Also one of the most widely 
parodied poems in the world, The Song of 
Hiawatha remains one of Longfellow's most 
memorable and recognizable works. 

I 8 * THE BIG READ National Endowment for the Arts 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Poetry 

Web site 

The most comprehensive collection available of 
Longfellow's poetry is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poems 
and Other Writings, edited by J.D. McClatchy, published 
in hardback by the Library of America (2000). It includes 
selections from thirteen of Longfellow's collections of 
poetry, the unabridged Evangeline and The Courtship of Miles 
Standish, and a chronology of the poet's life. 

Paperback versions of Longfellow's verse include Henry 
Wadsworth Longfellow. Selected Poems with an introduction 
by Lawrence Buell (New York Penguin, 1 988) and 
Evangeline and Selected Tales and Poems with an introduction 
by Horace Gregory (New York: Signet, 2005). 

An unabridged version of Tales of a Wayside Inn is published 
by Longfellow's Wayside Inn (Sudbury, MA: 1 995). 

Visit the Poetry Tool at for a 
biography and bibliography of Longfellow, along with many 
of his poems. 


There are three American landmarks devoted to 
Longfellow. Each organization's Web site will provide both 
teachers and students with additional biographical material, 
lesson plans, and images. 

The Maine Historical Society preserves Longfellow's 
childhood home in Portland, Maine, now called the 
Wadsworth-Longfellow House. 

Selected Books about Longfellow 
and His Poetry 

Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow. A Rediscovered Life. Boston: 
Beacon Press, 2004. 

Gale, Robert L. A Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Companion. 
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. 

The National Park Service maintains the home Longfellow 
occupied from 1837 to 1882 in Cambridge. Massachusetts, 
as the Longfellow National Historic Site. 

Longfellow's Wayside Inn was originally known as Howe's 
Tavern. Located in Sudbury. Massachusetts. Longfellow 
visited the tavern in 1 862. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and His Portland Home. 
Portland, ME: Maine Historical Society. 2004 

Irmscher. Christoph. Longfellow Redux. Urbana: University of 
Illinois Press, 2006. 

Longfellow. Henry Wadsworth. The Letters of Henry 
Wadsworti) Longfellow. Ed. Andrew Hilen. 6 vols. Cambridge. 
MA: Belknap. 1 966-82. 

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National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards* 

1 . Students read a wide range of print and 
non-print texts to build an understanding of 
texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of 
the United States and the world; to acquire 
new information; to respond to the needs 
and demands of society and the workplace; 
and for personal fulfillment. Among these 
texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and 
contemporary works. 

2. Students read a wide range of literature from 
many periods in many genres to build an 
understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., 
philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human 

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies 
to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and 
appreciate texts. They draw on their prior 
experience, their interactions with other 
readers and writers, their knowledge of 
word meaning and of other texts, their 
word identification strategies, and their 
understanding of textual features (e.g., sound- 
letter correspondence, sentence structure, 
context, graphics). 

4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, 
and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, 
vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a 
variety of audiences and for different purposes. 

5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as 
they write and use different writing process 
elements appropriately to communicate with 
different audiences for a variety of purposes. 





Students apply knowledge of language 
structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling 
and punctuation), media techniques, figurative 
language, and genre to create, critique, and 
discuss print and non-print texts. 

Students conduct research on issues and 
interests by generating ideas and questions, and 
by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and 
synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., 
print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to 
communicate their discoveries in ways that suit 
their purpose and audience. 

Students use a variety of technological and 
information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, 
computer networks, video) to gather and 
synthesize information and to create and 
communicate knowledge. 

Students develop an understanding of and 
respect for diversity in language use, patterns, 
and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, 
geographic regions, and social roles. 

1 0. Students whose first language is not English 
make use of their first language to develop 
competency in the English language arts and to 
develop understanding of content across the 

1 1 . Students participate as knowledgeable, 
reflective, creative, and critical members of a 
variety of literacy communities. 

12. Students use spoken, written, and visual 
language to accomplish their own purposes 
(e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and 
the exchange of information). 

* This guide was developed with NCTE Standards and State Language Arts Standards in mind. Use these standards to guide and develop 
your application of the curriculum. 

20 ' THE BIG READ National Endowment for the Arts 


'Lives of great men all remind us 
We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 
Footprints on the sands of time... 

from his poem "A Psalm of Life" 

The Big Read is an initiative of the National 
Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading 
to the center of American culture. Longfellow educational 
materials are made possible through the generous 
support of the Poetry Foundation. 

A great nation deserves great art.