Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Maine in 1807. He became a scholar and a linguist, studying in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and England. At 22, he was launched into his career as a college professor at Harvard.

Longfellow composed one of his favorite poems, Evangeline in 1847 and it was widely acclaimed. Longfellow began to feel that his work as a teacher was a hindrance to his own writing. In 1854, he resigned from Harvard and gave himself entirely to his own writing.

A number of his phrases, such as “ships that pass in the night”, “the patter of little feet”, and “I shot an arrow into the air”, have become common property.

Longfellow is considered the first professional American poet. He told American stories which had a world-wide audience, thus creating and promoting American culture.

While he is not one of our favorite poets, his tale of Paul Revere tells an important story about the beginnings of the American Revolution. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere was published in January, 1861.  We’re also including another, earlier,  example of Longfellow’s poems, The Village Smithy, published in 1841.