Lesson Plans Lesson Plans

Longfellow Studies: "The Slave's Dream"

Gail Roller, Biddeford Public Schools, York County


6-8, 9-12

  • English Language Arts -- Reading
  • Social Studies -- History

2-4 days

  • 1775-1850
  • 1851-1920
  • Arts
  • The People/Peopling of Maine

In December of 1842 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Poems on Slavery was published. "The Slave's Dream" is one of eight anti-slavery poems in the collection. A beautifully crafted and emotionally moving poem, it mesmerizes the reader with the last thoughts of an African King bound to slavery, as he lies dying in a field of rice. The 'landscape of his dreams' include the lordly Niger flowing, his green-eyed Queen, the Caffre huts and all of the sights and sounds of his homeland until at last 'Death illuminates his Land of Sleep.'

  • This lesson was developed for seventh graders.
  • The lesson plan can stand on their own or can be integrated into language arts, social studies or even a science curriculum.
  • The objectives and activities are suggested as a starting point. It is my hope that after teachers and students are exposed to this sampling of Longfellow's poetry they will be motivated to read and study more of his works.

Teachers should feel free to adapt and use this plan to suit their needs.

Download Lesson Plan

A resource developed through the "Longfellow & the Forging of American Identity" program funded by NEH