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The Writer's Hour: Footprints on the Sands of Time

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1840

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1840 / Longfellow National Historic Site

Longfellow, a professor, translator, and poet, became the first American to earn his living as a poet. His writing helped to forge the historic identity of America and celebrated the cultures of Europe. The song-like poems brought awareness of natural beauty and freshness to old and familiar traditions. The fruits of his imagination were famous during his lifetime, nearly forgotten thereafter, and are being rediscovered today. He's the only American recognized in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, London.

Longfellow wrote in his famous poem, A Psalm of Life,

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Did Longfellow's work leave "footprints on the sands of time?"
What does it mean to be a poet? A curator?

Come on an imaginary journey back in time - February 27, 1879. Alice, Longfellow's oldest daughter, searches Castle Craigie in Cambridge for her beloved father before their birthday dinner guest arrives. After the virtual house tour, examine treasures from an old carriage house trunk. Have fun creating acrostic, haiku, cinquain, and other poems in Longfellow's style. The read-aloud poems are, The Children's Hour, A Psalm of Life, To A Child, The Village Blacksmith, From My Arm-Chair, and Travels by the Fireside.

 

Item 2 of 26