Famous Holiday Poem

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was inspired to write this poem in 1863 during the Civil War when his son went off to fight for the Union against his wishes. While this song is about Christmas time, there is an underlying tone of the war (The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail). This poem is the basis for the Christmas carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

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It's wonderful. I love how he added that he believes in God. Best poem ever.

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Analysis of Form and Technique

Christmas Bells

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I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

more Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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For Students - Analysis of Form and Technique

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Techniques this poem uses:

  • This poem uses adjectives to add more description. An adjective is the part of speech that describes a noun (person, place, or thing). Using adjectives helps create a stronger picture in a reader's head.

    old, unfamiliar carols
    unbroken song
    chant sublime
    accursed mouth

    Read more about adjectives in poetry
  • The same line is repeated at the end of each stanza. This brings attention to the importance of it, and it helps get across the message the author is trying to send.

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Read more about repetition in poetry
  • This poem follows the AABBC rhyming pattern. In each stanza, the first two lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme. Line five does not rhyme with any others.

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day A
    Their old, familiar carols play, A
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Read more about rhyme schemes

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  • by Stephanie G Mobley
  • 7 months ago

It's wonderful. I love how he added that he believes in God. Best poem ever.

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