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Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow Meets German Radical Poet Ferdinand Freiligrath

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
During Longfellow's 1842 travels in Germany he made the acquaintance of the politically radical Ferdinand Freiligrath, one of the influential voices calling for social revolution in his country. It is suggested that this association with Freiligrath along with his return visit with Charles Dickens influenced Longfellow's slavery poems. This essay traces Longfellow's interest in the German poet, Freiligrath's development as a radical poetic voice, and Longfellow's subsequent visit with Charles Dickens. Samples of verse and prose are provided to illustrate each writer's social conscience.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: "The Poet's Tale - The Birds of Killingworth"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Science & Engineering, Social Studies
This poem is one of the numerous tales in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Tales of the Wayside Inn. The collection was published in three parts between 1863 and 1873. This series of long narrative poems were written by Longfellow during the most difficult personal time of his life. While mourning the tragic death of his second wife (Fanny Appleton Longfellow) he produced this ambitious undertaking. During this same period he translated Dante's Inferno from Italian to English. "The Poet's Tale" is a humorous poem with a strong environmental message which reflects Longfellow's Unitarian outlook on life.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith" and "Whitman's Song of Myself" - Alternative Constructions of the American Worker

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Most if not all of us have or will need to work in the American marketplace for at least six decades of our lives. There's a saying that I remember a superintendent telling a group of graduating high-school seniors: remember, when you are on your deathbed, you will not be saying that you wish you had spent more time "at the office." But Americans do spend a lot more time working each year than nearly any other people on the planet. By the end of our careers, many of us will have spent more time with our co-workers than with our families. Already in the 21st century, much has been written about the "Wal-Martization" of the American workplace, about how, despite rocketing profits, corporations such as Wal-Mart overwork and underpay their employees, how workers' wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s, while the costs of college education and health insurance have risen out of reach for many citizens. It's become a cliché to say that the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is widening to an alarming degree. In his book Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips says we are dangerously close to becoming a plutocracy in which one dollar equals one vote. Such clashes between employers and employees, and between our rhetoric of equality of opportunity and the reality of our working lives, are not new in America. With the onset of the industrial revolution in the first half of the nineteenth century, many workers were displaced from their traditional means of employment, as the country shifted from a farm-based, agrarian economy toward an urban, manufacturing-centered one. In cities such as New York, groups of "workingmen" (early manifestations of unions) protested, sometimes violently, unsatisfactory labor conditions. Labor unions remain a controversial political presence in America today. Longfellow and Whitman both wrote with sympathy about the American worker, although their respective portraits are strikingly different, and worth juxtaposing. Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith" is one of his most famous and beloved visions: in this poem, one blacksmith epitomizes characteristics and values which many of Longfellow's readers, then and now, revere as "American" traits. Whitman's canto (a section of a long poem) 15 from "Song of Myself," however, presents many different "identities" of the American worker, representing the entire social spectrum, from the crew of a fish smack to the president (I must add that Whitman's entire "Song of Myself" is actually 52 cantos in length). I do not pretend to offer these single texts as all-encompassing of the respective poets' ideas about workers, but these poems offer a starting place for comparison and contrast. We know that Longfellow was the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century, just as we know that Whitman came to be one of the most controversial. Read more widely in the work of both poets and decide for yourselves which poet speaks to you more meaningfully and why.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Celebrity's Picture - Using Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Portraits to Observe Historic Changes

Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies, Visual & Performing Arts
"In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?" Englishman Sydney Smith's 1820 sneer irked Americans, especially writers such as Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, and Maine's John Neal, until Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's resounding popularity successfully rebuffed the question. The Bowdoin educated Portland native became the America's first superstar poet, paradoxically loved especially in Britain, even memorialized at Westminster Abbey. He achieved international celebrity with about forty books or translations to his credit between 1830 and 1884, and, like superstars today, his public craved pictures of him. His publishers consequently commissioned Longfellow's portrait more often than his family, and he sat for dozens of original paintings, drawings, and photos during his lifetime, as well as sculptures. Engravers and lithographers printed replicas of the originals as book frontispiece, as illustrations for magazine or newspaper articles, and as post cards or "cabinet" cards handed out to admirers, often autographed. After the poet's death, illustrators continued commercial production of his image for new editions of his writings and coloring books or games such as "Authors," and sculptors commemorated him with busts in Longfellow Schools or full-length figures in town squares. On the simple basis of quantity, the number of reproductions of the Maine native's image arguably marks him as the country's best-known nineteenth century writer. TEACHERS can use this presentation to discuss these themes in art, history, English, or humanities classes, or to lead into the following LESSON PLANS. The plans aim for any 9-12 high school studio art class, but they can also be used in any humanities course, such as literature or history. They can be adapted readily for grades 3-8 as well by modifying instructional language, evaluation rubrics, and targeted Maine Learning Results and by selecting materials for appropriate age level.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "My Lost Youth"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12, Postsecondary Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "The Bridge"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12, Postsecondary Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "Footsteps of Angels"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12, Postsecondary Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "Psalm of Life"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12, Postsecondary Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "The Song of Hiawatha"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow's Ripple Effect: Journaling With the Poet - "The Fire of Drift-Wood"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12, Postsecondary Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
This lesson is part of a series of six lesson plans that will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the works of Longfellow while reflecting upon how his works speak to their own experiences.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow and the American Sonnet

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Traditionally the Petrarchan sonnet as used by Francesco Petrarch was a 14 line lyric poem using a pattern of hendecasyllables and a strict end-line rhyme scheme; the first twelve lines followed one pattern and the last two lines another. The last two lines were the "volta" or "turn" in the poem. When the sonnet came to the United States sometime after 1775, through the work of Colonel David Humphreys, Longfellow was one of the first to write widely in this form which he adapted to suit his tone. Since 1900 poets have modified and experimented with the traditional traits of the sonnet form.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: The Elms - Stephen Longfellow's Gorham Farm

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
On April 3, 1761 Stephen Longfellow II signed the deed for the first 100 acre purchase of land that he would own in Gorham, Maine. His son Stephen III (Judge Longfellow) would build a home on that property which still stands to this day. Judge Longfellow would become one of the most prominent citizens in GorhamÂ’s history and one of the earliest influences on his grandson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's work as a poet. This exhibit examines why the Longfellows arrived in Gorham, Judge Longfellow's role in the history of the town, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's vacations in the country which may have influenced his greatest work, and the remains of the Longfellow estate still standing in Gorham today.