Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poems

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a famed poet and educator. His poetry collections include Voices of the Night and Ballads and Other Poems. They contained some of his most famous poems, including ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’ Most of his poetry is lyrical but readers shouldn’t be surprised to find a wide variety of forms in his work. Read more about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a narrative poem about a shipwreck and the dangers of pride in an emergency.

This poem is widely considered to be one of Longfellow's best and most famous poems. It has been praised for its use of Gothic themes and romanticism and has been popular with readers and critics since its publication in 1842. The poem demonstrates the beauty of his verse as well as its thrilling story-telling ability. Readers should walk away from 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' feeling a great deal of sympathy for the crew and anger at the skipper.

It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea;

And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,

To bear him company.

Hiawatha’s Childhood

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Hiawatha’s Childhood’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes how the protagonist of ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ grew up and learned about his surroundings. It also focuses on the life of his grandmother.

This poem is an excerpt from a much longer, epic poem that is widely regarded as Longfellow's masterpiece. This is not the best-known section of the poem but it does demonstrate the style of the entire piece and Longfellow's use of language and structure.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,

By yhr shining Big-Sea-Water,

Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

The Song of Hiawatha Introduction

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Song of Hiawatha’ Introduction by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the first in a series of sections, or cantos, from the long epic poem, ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’

Longfellow, one of the most celebrated American poets of the 19th century, brought a lyrical elegance to his works that resonated with a broad audience. In 'The Song of Hiawatha,' he ventured into a realm that was novel for many of his readers: the legends and lore of Native American cultures. Although Longfellow's interpretation was romanticized and not entirely accurate in its representation of any single tribe, his endeavor was groundbreaking for its time. By weaving Native American tales into the tapestry of American literature, Longfellow contributed to a broader awareness and appreciation of indigenous narratives, albeit through his own poetic lens.

Should you ask me, whence these stories?

Whence these legends and traditions,

With the odors of the forest

With the dew and damp of meadows,

The Song of Hiawatha: Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Song of Hiawatha: Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the fourth part of ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’ The poem details exciting moments in Hiawatha’s physical and spiritual journey. 

Longfellow's works, including 'The Song of Hiawatha,' often exhibit a fascination with the past and a keen interest in diverse cultures. His poetry is characterized by a strong sense of rhythm, romance, and idealism. In the case of 'The Song of Hiawatha,' Longfellow's approach lends an air of myth and legend to the tale, enhancing its timeless appeal.

Out of childhood into manhood

Now had grown my Hiawatha,

Skilled in all the craft of hunters,

Learned in all the lore of old men,

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a moving poem that depicts life and death through the image of the seashore. 

Longfellow's poetry often blends natural themes with human emotions. In this poem, he uses the tide as a metaphor to comment on life's cycles, highlighting the eternal nature of the sea versus human mortality. This blend of natural observation with philosophical insight is characteristic of his work.

The tide rises, the tide falls,

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

The traveller hastens toward the town,

And the tide rises, the tide falls.


The Peace Pipe

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Peace Pipe’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the second part of the epic poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’ 

Longfellow's works often delve into historical narratives, mythologies, and the intricate tapestries of human emotions. In this section of 'The Song of Hiawatha,' he attempts to describe the spiritual landscape of the epic poem.

On the Mountains of the Prairie,

On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,

Gitche Manito, the mighty,

He the Master of Life, descending,

Santa Filomena

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Santa Filomena’ explores the transformative power of noble deeds and thoughts, bringing light and solace amidst suffering.

This poem is a good representation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's work. It exhibits several characteristics commonly found in his poetry, such as a contemplative and reflective tone, a focus on moral and ethical themes, vivid imagery, and a rhythmic and melodic style. Additionally, the poem showcases Longfellow's ability to convey profound messages and emotions through carefully chosen words and imagery.

Whene’er a noble deed is wrought

Whene’er is spoken a noble thought

Our hearts, in glad surprise,

To higher levels rise.

The Broken Oar

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow’s contemplative journey reveals the weariness of the human experience and the limitations of language.

This poem provides a glimpse into some common themes found in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poems, such as introspection, the exploration of the human condition, and a deep appreciation for nature. It showcases his ability to evoke striking imagery and convey complex emotions. However, it is important to note that Longfellow's body of work encompasses a wide range of themes, styles, and subjects, so while 'The Broken Oar' is a notable example of his poetry, it may not fully encapsulate the breadth of his poetic repertoire.

Once upon Iceland's solitary strand

A poet wandered with his book and pen,

Seeking some final word, some sweet Amen,

Wherewith to close the volume in his hand.

A Day of Sunshine

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In ‘A Day of Sunshine’ by Henry Wadsworth, Longfellow uses imagery to celebrate nature. It reminds the reader to take advantage of these special moments when they come.

O gift of God!  O perfect day:

Whereon shall no man work, but play;

Whereon it is enough for me,

Not to be doing, but to be! 

Explore more poems from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Nameless Grave

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"A soldier of the Union mustered out,"

  Is the inscription on an unknown grave

  At Newport News, beside the salt-sea wave,

  Nameless and dateless; sentinel or scout

A Psalm of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘A Psalm of Life’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a thoughtful poem about life’s struggles. The poet addresses the best way to confront these difficulties on an everyday basis.

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.

Afternoon in February

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Afternoon in February’ by Longfellow is a poem that explores profound sadness, and, more notable, the way that people can see their sadness in every aspect of life when the feeling is strong enough.

The day is ending,

The night is descending;

The marsh is frozen,

The river dead.

Daylight and Moonlight

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Filled with beautiful images, ‘Daylight and Moonlight’ juxtaposes lightness, darkness, and celebrates how glorious they both are.

In broad daylight, and at noon,

Yesterday I saw the moon

Sailing high, but faint and white,

As a school-boy's paper kite.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The shades of night were falling fast,

As through an Alpine village passed

A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,

A banner with the strange device,

It Is Not Always May

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  The sun is bright,the air is clear, 

        The darting swallows soar and sing, 

    And from the stately elms I hear 

        The blue-bird prophesying Spring.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a pale phantom with a lamp

  Ascends some ruin's haunted stair,

So glides the moon along the damp

  Mysterious chambers of the air.

My Lost Youth

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘My Lost Youth’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a lyric meditating upon the poet’s youthful days. It was a glorious time of his life when he was as fresh as dew and as energetic as sea tides.

Often I think of the beautiful town

      That is seated by the sea;

Often in thought go up and down

The pleasant streets of that dear old town,


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Snow-flakes’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a graceful and melodic poem that describes a snowfall as the sky sharing and shedding its grief. 

Out of the bosom of the Air,

      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,

Over the woodlands brown and bare,

      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Song’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is made up of a speaker’s plea that his “heart” remain indoors and avoid the brutal real world.

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;

Home-keeping hearts are happiest,

For those that wander they know not where

Are full of trouble and full of care;

Song of the Owl

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Song of the Owl,’ a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, describes the hooting of the great black owl. It taps on the themes of silence and darkness.

Ojibwa The owl,— Au The owl Au  

The Arrow and the Song

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Arrow and the Song’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is an interesting poem that utilizes quatrains. Throughout the piece, the speaker alludes to the unknown impact of his poetry before finding it in the heart of his friend in the last stanza.

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.

The Builders

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Builders’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes how a nation is built from the contributions of each and every individual of the country. The people from both the past and present collectively work for a nation’s advancement.

All are architects of Fate,

Working in these walls of Time;

Some with massive deeds and great,

Some with ornaments of rhyme.

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