14 Most Popular Poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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  • The Bridge

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    in Famous Poems

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Bridge" weaves a vivid scene using poetic techniques. The poem paints a picture of standing on a bridge at midnight as clocks chime. It employs vivid imagery, such as the moon rising over the city and its reflection in the water, creating a serene and almost mystical atmosphere. It also uses metaphor, with the moon resembling a "golden goblet," and symbolism, as the bridge becomes a symbol of life's journey. The poem explores themes of longing, change, and the passage of time, evoking a sense of nostalgia and the enduring nature of human experience.

    I stood on the bridge at midnight,
    As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose o'er the city,
    Behind the dark church tower.

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  • The Children's Hour

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    in Famous Family Poems

    The Children's Hour was first published in 1860 in The Atlantic Monthly. The 3 children in the poem are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's own daughters.
    In the early 1900's this poem was frequently taught in schools to young children. It is about the father child relationship and the enduring love of a father for his children.

    Between the dark and the daylight,
    When the night is beginning to lower,
    Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
    That is known as the Children's Hour.

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    Beautifully written...loved every word of it. So pure and wonderful!

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  • The Rainy Day

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    in Famous Sad Poems

    "The Rainy Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a melancholic poem about the feelings of sadness. The poem uses imagery and metaphor to depict the bleakness of a rainy day. The wind and rain symbolize the constant struggles and difficulties in life, and the fallen leaves represent lost hopes and dreams. The poet tries to find comfort in the idea that everyone experiences hardships in life, but the sadness still lingers. The rhyme scheme used in the poem is ABAAB. The message is that life can be dark and difficult, but one must keep hope and find the sunshine behind the clouds.

    The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
    It rains, and the wind is never weary;
    The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
    But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

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  • Loss And Gain

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    in Famous Poems

    In "Loss and Gain" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet employs the poetic technique of juxtaposition to compare what has been lost with what has been gained. This technique highlights the contrast between the two and creates a reflective tone. Longfellow acknowledges the moments of defeat or missed opportunities and conveys a sense of humility. The poem ultimately suggests that what may seem like a loss can, in fact, be a hidden victory, emphasizing the idea that even in defeat, there is the potential for a positive turn of events.

    When I compare
    What I have lost with what I have gained,
    What I have missed with what attained,
    Little room do I find for pride.

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  • A Psalm Of Life

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    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    This inspiring poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807 - 1882) was first published in 1838. It uses an ABAB rhyming pattern. Longfellow explained the poem's purpose as "a transcript of my thoughts and feelings at the time I wrote, and of the conviction therein expressed, that Life is something more than an idle dream." A very famous line from the poem is, "Footprints on the sands of time".

    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.

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    • Poem of the Day
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    My deceased husband introduced me to this poem 55 years ago, and I've always considered it a great gift.

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  • Christmas Bells

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    in Famous Holiday Poems

    Analysis of Form and Technique

    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."

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat

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

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  • Snow-Flakes

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    in Famous Nature Poems

    Snow-Flakes by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a beautiful description of the way snow falls from the sky and covers the landscape. The snowflakes are described as silent, soft, and slow, creating a sense of stillness and peace. The comparison between the way snowflakes take shape in the air and the way our thoughts take shape in our minds suggests a connection between the natural world and our inner world. The final stanza suggests that there is something deeply meaningful about the snowflakes and the way they reveal the secret of despair.

    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,

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  • The Arrow And The Song

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    in Famous Friendship Poems

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived from 1807-1882. During this time, he traveled a lot and learned various languages. In this poem, Longfellow compares the arrow to life, and the songs are compared to feelings. Even though songs (feelings) are unseen, they are still real. The arrow could also be compared to negative words shot from our mouths, and the song could be joyful words shared with others.

    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.

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    When I was a boy, my mother would read poetry and classic literature to me before I was even old enough to attend school. Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song" was one I easily memorized, and...

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  • A Day Of Sunshine

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    in Famous Nature Poems

    Sunny days have a way of making us feel fantastic. We want to take full advantage of what the day has to offer. Famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) captures the beauty and desire to enjoy nature on a sunny day. Sunny days can make it hard to focus on work because one would rather be outside enjoying the majesty of the natural world. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a prolific writer of prose and poetry. After graduating from college, he studied languages in Europe before becoming a college professor at Bowdoin, his alma mater, and later at Harvard.

    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!

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  • Holidays

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    in Famous Holiday Poems

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who lived from 1807-1882. He experienced tragedy in his life with the unexpected death of two wives. In this poem, he shows that we all have special moments in our lives that we celebrate, and they become our own personal holidays. They are days to remember certain people or events that have impacted our lives. Longfellow uses similes in this poem to show the purity of those meaningful holidays.

    The holiest of all holidays are those
    Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
    The secret anniversaries of the heart,
    When the full river of feeling overflows;--

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