Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Was Born
Have you ever stood up in front of your class
and recited a poem? When your grandparents and
great-grandparents were in school, they may have been required
to recite this poem, "The Village Blacksmith," by Henry
Under a spreading chestnut tree,
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny
Are strong as iron bands.
Longfellow was born on
February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine. His poetry was very
popular in the 19th century, and many of his poems are still
familiar today. Have you ever read his poem about Paul Revere's
midnight ride on August 18, 1775?
Listen, my children,
and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
"Paul Revere's Ride" was published in Tales of a Wayside Inn
in 1863. Paul Revere was the patriot who rode on horseback
through the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord warning
of the upcoming British attack. Longfellow's poems were also
popular in Europe. After he died in 1882, he became the only
American commemorated in the Poet's Corner in England's
While Longfellow was a professor at
Harvard University, he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with
his second wife, Fanny Appleton, (his first wife died) and his
six children. One day, while he was at home, something happened
that inspired him to write a poem about his children.
"The Children's Hour," Longfellow wrote about an evening when
his daughters tried to catch him by surprise. What do the first
two verses of the poem have to do with the photograph on this
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then
Yet I know by their merry eyes
plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
Can you imagine his daughters playing on this staircase?
Longfellow's poems may seem old-fashioned now, but he was
considered a "new poet" in his day. What would a modern-day poet
write about you?